Making it to the Top: Towards a Gendered Skills Analysis of Senior Leadership and Management Positions in UK Universities

By Barbara Bagilhole.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Women remain outsiders in UK University senior management. They are still particularly under-represented at the most senior levels of leadership and management. This paper builds on earlier quantitative research by the author that demonstrated men predominate in senior management in the UK. It reports on research using qualitiative in-depth interviews with current and former Vice-Chancellors, senior managers and recruitment firms to try to tease out the skill requirements for effective leadership positions in universities. The research also addresses the important question of whether these skills are, or are seen as, gendered. There is an indication that selection processes, and gender stereotyping may impact on women becoming senior managers. Making it to the top appears to remain a markedly different career experience for men and women and it is argued that it will remain so until the deeply gendered nature of the management culture of universities is acknowledged and the process for selecting senior managers is made more transparent and fair. The intention of the research is to eventually create a skills benchmark as a potentially useful way of assessing future incumbents of these leadership positions and which hopefully cuts across any gender bias present in the current system.

Keywords: Gender, HE Leadership

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.173-184. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.246MB).

Prof. Barbara Bagilhole

Associate Dean Research, Professor of Equal Opportunities and Social Policy, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Barbara Bagilhole is Professor of Equal Opportunities and Social Policy and Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Loughborough University, UK. She has taught, researched and published extensively in the field of Equal Opportunities and Diversity legislation and policies across the areas of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief and age. Recent research has looked at women and science, engineering and technology, and other women in non-traditional occupations.

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