Like a bird of paradise among the carrion crows: An exploration of constructions of women leaders in the media and education

Year: 2000


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The gap between cultural discourses of female leadership and the reality for many women in the workplace appears to be widening. Recently an Australian Magazine report triumphantly announced the shattering of the 'glass ceiling' for women in management. Barely three weeks later, an Australian Institute of Management survey revealed that women in management were still earning 'far less than men' and that the number of women on Australian boards had fallen in the past year.

What messages are conveyed by contemporary media coverage of Australian female public figures in regard to women and leadership? What connections are there between the discourses of women and leadership which circulate within the mainstream media and the subjectivity of women who are or who aspire to be leaders? This paper analyses the way in which broadsheet newspapers in Australia have represented a range of female public figures in the last decade of the twentieth century. It then analyses interviews conducted with female educational leaders. The paper seeks to explore how this latter group of women are both constructed by and construct discourses of leadership within the education workplace and how such discourse may be informed and shaped by contemporary Australian media representations of women leaders.