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Double jeopardy: the paradox and promise of coaching women leaders from a critical feminist perspective

Laura L. Bierema (Department of Lifelong Learning, Administration and Policy, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Eunbi Sim (Department of Lifelong Learning, Administration and Policy, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Weixin He (Department of Lifelong Learning, Administration and Policy, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Alexandra B. Cox (Department of Lifelong Learning, Administration and Policy, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 19 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the “double-jeopardy” in widely adopted women’s leadership development interventions aimed at “fixing” women, explore critical feminist coaching (CFC) perspectives and practices and offer more equitable and just alternatives for developing women leaders.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper includes a literature review of post-feminist and critical feminist perspectives and a critical examination of coaching for women leaders from each perspective.

Findings

Postfeminist approaches in organizations are little scrutinized because of the dominant postfeminist discourse that women's subordination and oppression have been “resolved” through neoliberal, individualistic interventions, such as postfeminist coaching programs. Infusing the message of “fixing women” through emphasizing “4 C’s” – confidence, control, courage and competition – postfeminist coaching programs have been submitting women leaders to “double jeopardy.” The authors critique this postfeminist coaching paradox from a critical feminist perspective foregrounding “4 R’s” – reflecting, reforming, raising and rebuilding – promising more equitable, just development.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first attempt to describe CFC and presentation of a conceptual and practical model of the process. The authors define postfeminist coaching as the disavowal of feminist values and failure to challenge gender hegemony in the coaching process. The authors propose a model of CFC defined as the explicit embrace of feminist values and challenge of gender hegemony in the coaching process. The authors offer alternatives for developing women leaders amid paradoxical, complex, capitalist systems, with a critical lens challenging postfeminism.

Keywords

Citation

Bierema, L.L., Sim, E., He, W. and Cox, A.B. (2022), "Double jeopardy: the paradox and promise of coaching women leaders from a critical feminist perspective", Gender in Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-07-2022-0239

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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