Gendered management and academic leadership in Spanish universities

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Cecilia Castaño Collado (UCM and IN3-UOC) Susana Vázquez-Cupeiro (UCM) and José Luis Martínez-Cantos (IN3-UOC) 

Higher education is reorganizing according to the logic of the marketplace. The modernization of universities has been running parallel to an increased competition, precarization and commodification of the academic work. And entrenched new management practices together with the global austerity policies, have had consequences in the production and reproduction of gender inequalities. Paradoxically, there has been a significant rise in the number of women in top decision making positions at Spanish universities. This seems a rather positive evolvement, yet analysis based on conventional and merely descriptive indicators may be hindering a not so egalitarian reality. Morley (2010) has pointed out that “[w]omen disappear when power, resources and influence increase” (p.387). So we decided to investigate what kind of senior management positions are women accessing? Are they appointed to leadership roles which acknowledge them as agents of change? Or, by contrast, they are blurring in less attractive new managerial positions? To do so, we analyzed the gender composition of vice-chancellors and pro-vice-chancellors of forty-four Spanish universities. Regarding to this, it is important to note the uniqueness of our research. Firstly, because in order to analyze the gendered distribution of the pro vice chancellors we have classified them in several categories-; and second, because after establishing categories, according to associated functions, we have tested the classification with a sample of pro vice chancellors. In view of the functional classification of the pro vice-chancellors, the results show an uneven gender distribution across top decision making areas. Specifically, and sustaining previous international research (Morley, 2005; Fitzgerald and Wilkinson, 2010), our analysis shows that women in top decision making are often involved in positions related to community engagement and care of students (graduates, postgraduates and quality), while their presence dramatically reduces in strategic areas (those especially related to innovation, technologies, research) and some management functions (mainly finances and infrastructures). In addition, the influence of the type of university on the gendered distribution of functions and positions in management and academic leadership has been explored

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