The paradox and the price: female academic managers in a changing tertiary education context

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Publication details

Wallace, M 2006, 'The paradox and the price: female academic managers in a changing tertiary education context', Advancing Women in Leadership, vol. 21.

Published version available from: http://www.advancingwomen.com/awl/summer2006/index.html

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This case study presents empirical data regarding the experiences of female academic managers in an Australian regional university. In Australia regional universities are situated in rural towns or cities outside the seven state capital cities and the national capital. This study is intended as a basis for further research in relation to women working in universities and has informed the development of a survey of female middle managers in Australian universities, which will be reported in another paper. This case study focuses on female academics in front-line roles to more senior management roles in what still remains a male-dominated management context. The study is also set within the context of a number of pressures on Australian universities, including increased student numbers, decreased government funding, corporatisation and managerialism. The broader restructuring of tertiary education is often accompanied by organizational restructuring at institutional level and this is the case in this study. The management lives of a number of women academics, who are front-line and more senior managers, are examined in the context of sectoral and organizational restructuring, the competitive expectations of managing in new times, and in the context of working in a university in an Australian regional area. Discussion examines human resource development practices and other experiences that have prepared the women for their current roles. Issues surrounding leadership and management styles, workplace culture, work/life balance, and work identity are examined. Conclusions are drawn about the organizational value attributed to the management activities undertaken by these women, the paradoxes a number identify in their roles, and the price several believe they have paid in undertaking managerial leadership.

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