Performing and Reforming Leaders

Gender, Educational Restructuring, and Organizational Change

By Jill Blackmore & Judyth Sachs

Subjects: Education
Series: SUNY series in Women in Education
Paperback : 9780791470329, 324 pages, March 2007
Hardcover : 9780791470312, 324 pages, March 2007

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Table of contents


Introduction: “Living at the Crossroads”


Educational Restructuring
Situating the Study
Structuring the Text
Positioning Ourselves


1. Risky Times for Women Leaders


So What Is the Problem Here?
Gender, Restructuring, and Educational Organizations
Ambivalence, Ambiguity, and Contradiction
Some Theoretical Dispositions
Professional Discourses, Institutional Metanarratives, and Work Identity
Performativity and Passion


2. Restructuring Education


Globalization and the Performative State
Traveling Policies
Australian Education Restructured
The Strategies of Corporatization
Level Playing Field? ‘Quasimarkets’ Structuring Opportunities
Hybrid Managerialism
Cultural Restructuring and the “Renorming” of Education


3. Gender Restructuring: Toxic, Volatile, and Greedy Organizations


The Upsides
The Downsides
Working Harder: Labor Intensification
Working Flexibly: Casualizing Educational Labor
Working “Smarter”? Toxic and Volatile Cultures
Greedy Organizations: Privatizing Work
Weary, Worried, and Worn Out


4. “Lived Contradictions”: Gender, Professionalism, and the Crisis of Trust


Professionalism Made Over
The Undoing of Education Professionalism
Teaching: Democratic or Management Professionalism?
Academics: Professional Experts and/or Public Intellectuals?
Training: Entrepreneurial or Just Pragmatic?
Cross-sectoral Patterns, Trends, and Local Gender Politics


5. Giving an Account: Performing Work and Working to Perform


The Performative State and Organizational Performativity
Performativity Rules
Rehearsing the Performance
Reforming to Perform through Accountability
“Real” Work
Contested Accountability
Logics of Practice: Anorexic Organizations Living on Audits


6. Accidental Leaders: Acting Out and Acting Up


Leadership and the Discourse of Reform
Leadership Habitus
Often “Accidental,” Sometimes “Reluctant,” but Forever “Acting” Leaders
Opening and Closing Windows of Opportunity
Moving up the Ladder: A Matter of Commitment?
Learning Leadership through Doing
“Feeling Different”: Issues of Representation and Re-presentation
Reflexivity: Making Mistakes and Practical Action


7. Managing the Self: The Consuming Passions of Performing and Reforming Leadership


Restructuring Leadership
Managing Leaders or Leading Managers?
Context and the Construction of the Self-as-Leader
Education as Passionate Work
Purposive Leadership
Performance and Managing the “Embodied” Public Self
Leadership as Relational and Ethical Work


8. Caught between Acts: Middle Managers Mediating Change Up and Down


People Management: Solution or Problem?
“Responsibilization” and the Dispersal of Management Work
Positions, Perspectives, and Possibilities
New Modes of Governance
Buffering Change
Resistance, Investment, and Identity
“Just Getting Things Done”: The Dangers of Practical Rationality


9. The Managerial Dilemma: The Counterintuitive Impulses of Performativity and Passion


Doing Well and Doing Good
The Sociopsychic Economy
The Emotional Management Work of Change
Managing the Sociopsychic Economy
Compliance and Compromise
A Crisis in Meaning


10. Progression and Regression: Managing Diversity, Equity, and Equal Opportunity


Restructuring Equal Opportunity: The Legacies of Gender Equity Reform
Policy Shift: From Equal Opportunity to Managing Diversity
Promoting Women
Equity Discourses: Strategic, Symbolic, and Interventionist
Backlash Politics
Understanding Gender Reform
Beyond the “Body Count”


11. Conclusion: Separation, Transition, and Incorporation?


Equity as the Touchstone: What “State” Are We in Now?
Paradoxical Restructuring Yet Again in the “New Millenium”
Lifelong Learning or a Revitalized Vocational/Academic Divide?
Restructuring, Organizational Change, and the Renorming of Education
Gender as a Useful Analytic Focus
Leading and Managing for Social Justice, Not Just Working Harder and Smarter


About the Authors

Explores the issues inherent in critical and postmodern feminism in educational leadership.


Winner of the 2007 Critics' Choice Award presented by the American Educational Studies Association

Performing and Reforming Leaders critically analyzes how women negotiate the dilemmas they face in leadership and managerial roles in Australian schools, universities, and continuing education. To meet the economic needs of the post-welfare nation state of the past decade, Australian education systems were restructured, and this restructuring coincided with many female teachers and academics moving into middle management as change agents. The authors examine how new managerialism and markets in education transformed how academics and teachers did their work, and in turn changed the nature of educational leadership in ways that were dissonant with the leadership practices and values women brought to the job. While largely focused on Australia, Performing and Reforming Leaders strongly resonates with the experiences of leaders in the United States and other nations that have undergone similar educational reforms in recent decades.

Jill Blackmore is Professor in Education at Deakin University. She is the author of Troubling Women: Feminism, Leadership, and Educational Change and the coeditor (with Jane Kenway) of Gender Matters in Educational Administration and Policy: A Feminist Introduction. Judyth Sachs is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) at the University of Sydney. She is the author of The Activist Teaching Profession and the coeditor (with Lloyd Logan) of Meeting the Challenges of Primary Schooling.


"…Performing and Reforming Leaders is an insightful, well-researched and timely piece that explores the paradoxical corporate worlds which women leaders inhabit. It is a relevant book for anyone who has an interest in education, gender and organisations. " — The Australian Educational Researcher

"This book breaks new ground for scholars interested in critical and postmodern feminism in educational leadership. It is refreshing to read about women leaders' experiences in trying times and also to see them positioned as having agency and as appropriating contemporary political discourses to advance their own agendas. " — Linda Skrla, coeditor of Reconsidering Feminist Research in Educational Leadership