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    The Social Construction of Gender and Leadership and the Impact of these Paradoxical Constructs on the Lived Experience of Women CEOs

    Kelly Mason, Catherine (2023) The Social Construction of Gender and Leadership and the Impact of these Paradoxical Constructs on the Lived Experience of Women CEOs. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The aim of this study was to explore how the paradoxical concepts of gender and leadership impacted on the lived experience of six women chief executive officers (CEOs) working within intellectual disability, Section 39 organisations in Ireland. A scoping review was conducted to illicit the breadth of research relevant to this topic. The primary analysis of the scoping review was concentrated on the barriers that women experience in relation to advancing or sustaining senior leadership positions. Findings from this review highlighted that women remain underrepresented in senior leadership roles and that the classification of female and male gender as oppositional social constructs maintains this status quo with women assigned a lesser societal status and power value. To facilitate a greater understanding of these findings a moderate form of social constructionism was applied throughout the research design. This position recognises that one’s ability to perceive and represent social reality is understood in context and influenced by socio-historical experiences known to the individual. A feminist informed narrative inquiry methodology was applied to gain an understanding of how participants gender identities have been shaped and normalised through pervasive cultural ideologies, language, discourse, and everyday social interactions. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and Braun and Clarke’s (2006, 2020) reflexive thematic analysis was operationalised in the analysis and coding of data. Findings illustrated that participants were subjected to a gendering process throughout their lives, which was underpinned by a prevailing patriarchal ideology that continues to sustain the oppression of women. Within this ideology positions of power such as the role of CEO is perceived as oppositional to the binary classification of female gender. Findings also highlight the discursive effects of neoliberal ideology on the sustainability of Section 39 organisations which is further compounded by a lack of clarity on appropriate leadership models. By adopting a social constructionist approach this study offered a different way of exploring the significance of the paradoxical constructs of gender and leadership and presented alternative explanations for the gender disparity that exists at CEO level. Gender was recognised as a fluid and changing construct, suggesting that the co-creation of a model of leadership beyond gender is possible.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Social Construction; Gender and Leadership; Impact; Paradoxical Constructs; Lived Experience; Women CEOs;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Applied Social Studies
    Item ID: 18330
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2024 12:02
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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