The contested space: womens experience in leadership roles
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This paper reports on findings from research regarding academic women’s experience in leadership roles in Australian universities. Their experience of leadership occurs in the contested space. The contested space arises because of the tension between ‘self’ and ‘others’ expectations of leaders and leadership. A lived experience of leadership occurring in the contested space means for the women in this research that their leadership authority is challenged because they are women and regardless of the leadership style they choose. It is a space of ongoing negotiation regarding their legitimacy as a leader. Despite their efforts to create and maintain professional working relationships and to be recognised for their own competence they continue to be seen as representative of all women and accountable for all women’s behaviour.
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