This paper aims to examine the discursive constitution of leadership identities by senior women leaders working in the City of London. This study draws on postfeminism as a critical concept to explore this constitution, as it has produced the cultural conditions for the reconfiguration of masculine and feminine gender norms in leadership.
In a qualitative study, 13 women leaders in positions of power in the City of London were interviewed. Discourse analysis techniques were used to unpack the postfeminist shaping of leadership identities
At the heart of the leadership identities that senior women leaders construct is a gendered hybridity that is a multifaceted calibration of masculine and feminine attributes and behaviours. Postfeminist discourses of individualism, choice and self-improvement are entangled with discourses of authenticity, relatability and connectivity as particular leadership assets. The gendered hybridity of leadership identities unfolds the possibility for a fundamental makeover of leadership by opening-up space for a transformative change that accommodates women leaders.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is among the very few studies that foreground the leadership identities that women leaders construct within the confines of postfeminist gender regimes. It shows how these women invoke authenticity, unfolding possibilities for the transformational change of and political challenge to traditional gendered leadership in their organizations.
The authors disclose receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: The research was supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship RF-2018-295 Postfeminism in the City awarded to Patricia Lewis.
Lewis, P. and Benschop, Y. (2022), "Gendered hybridity in leadership identities: a postfeminist analysis", Gender in Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-07-2022-0238
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