Challenge accepted: Women claiming leadership in higher education learning and teaching


  • Marina Harvey Macquarie University, Australia
  • Sandra Jones RMIT University, Australia


Women academics, Distributed leadership, University leadership, Tenets of leadership


A recognised challenge for women in higher education learning and teaching is of rightfully claiming leadership. Higher education processes for recruitment, promotion, awards, grants and fellowship are founded on an ability to document and convincingly present one’s leadership contribution. The focus is on evidencing from a traditional, formal positional role view of leadership. However, the leadership contribution of women to learning and teaching often accords with a more distributed leadership approach. This may lead to women, unguided in how to evidence their leadership contribution and impact, being unable to self-acknowledge and claim their leadership contribution. The challenge for women is in claiming their leadership contribution and impact so as not to be disadvantaged in academic career progression and recognition. Drawing on a database of 15 years of research into a distributed leadership in learning and teaching, a Linguistics Inquiry approach is employed to explore reflections of female academics to their leadership contributions in learning and teaching. This reveals evidence-based strategies that have successfully supported a positive transition, by women, to self-acknowledge their leadership contributions. Many of these are resource intensive and difficult to sustain in the current higher education sector context of diminishing and reduced resources. To present a low-resource alternative, the six tenets of a Distributed Leadership approach structure a low-resource framework alternative that provides key conceptual prompts for presenting a leadership case. Vignettes of applying the framework in practice are provided to illustrate its transferability across a range of scenarios for women to rightfully claim their leadership contribution.


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How to Cite

Challenge accepted: Women claiming leadership in higher education learning and teaching. (2022). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 19(1), 68-91.

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