Neither frogs, nor princes: Changing models of leadership in academia

Year: 1994

Author: Klinck, Patricia, Allard, Andrea

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports on a pilot program run for male academic staff at the University of Melbourne which aimed to enable men to explore their understandings of gender, power and models of leadership.

The Affirmative Action Program for Women has resulted in a number of initiatives to encourage and support women to succeed in academia. Underpinning these initiatives is the often unexamined assumption that it is women who need to change in order to achieve "success", to fit into academia. However, some recent work has explored the "masculinist culture" of academia and the need for this to alter.

The program, reported on in this paper, was an initial attempt to discuss with male academics their understandings concerning gender and the ways in which power is exercised by them as teachers and as researchers, and to consider alternative leadership models, including those based on collegiality and collaboration. The program was organised on the model of a collegial support group which has been successful in leadership training in the US and Canada as well as in Australia. One of the aims of this pilot project was to investigate how male-only groups responded to such a model.

The pilot study met with mixed results and some surprising observations and insights for the two (female) facilitators. In this paper, we will outline the program, discuss the barriers to change that emerged and report on the follow-up investigation done after the program.