This event is part of CIDRAL's Work, Leisure, Culture strand.
Stephanie Schnurr (University of Warwick) will deliver a public lecture entitled 'Challenging Hegemonic Notions of Leadership Through Storytelling: Experiences From Professionals Around the Globe'.
Hegemonic notions of leadership often depict leaders as “heroic”, “tall, handsome, white, alpha males” (Clifton et al. 2019; Grint 2010). These assumptions tend to be reflected and reinforced in stories told by celebrity leaders (such as Jack Welch and Indra Nooyi) who typically portray leadership as an inherently masculine activity. In their stories they often celebrate behaviours and traits associated with masculinity – such as rationality and a focus on business objectives, control and competitiveness, toughness, and perhaps even aggressiveness – and propagate them as aspects of good leadership (see also Ford, 2006; Fletcher, 2004).
However, in this talk I explore several “other” stories which challenge and resist such hegemonic notions of leadership. In and through these stories alternative forms of leadership are constructed, which are based on traits and behaviours typically associated with femininity, such as being caring, nurturing, empathetic, collaborative, and perhaps even vulnerable (e.g. Ford, 2006; Fletcher, 2004).
Taking a narrative as social practice approach I analyse such “other” leadership stories told by women leaders in different workplaces in the Middle East, the US, India, and Germany. Through these stories about their own experiences in geographically and culturally diverse contexts, the storytellers not only navigate gender stereotypes, but they also challenge and resist globally valid hegemonic (and typically masculine) notions of leadership and construct concrete alternatives. They thereby criticise the persisting gender stereotypes that view women as “the less agentic sex” and as “underqualified for leadership” (Eagly & Carli, 2016, p. 351; Hoyt & Murphy, 2016; Powell, 2011), which are still prevail in many workplaces around the globe. These stories thus have transformative power and contribute to de-gendering leadership and changing one of the most pressing issues of gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace (Clifton et al., 2019).
Stephanie Schnurr is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick.