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Advancing women to leadership in academia: does personal branding matter?

Heriberta Heriberta (Universitas Jambi, Jambi, Indonesia)
Nurdiana Gaus (Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
Muhammad Azwar Paramma (UIN Sultan Aji Muhammad Idris Samarinda, Samarinda, Indonesia)
Nursita Utami (Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

Qualitative Research Journal

ISSN: 1443-9883

Article publication date: 27 February 2024




Personal branding is a strategic tool of marketing and communication to define success in organisations. While it constitutes a conscious attempt to commodify self and audit self, it must be intentionally managed to obtain its optimum results. This study aims to illustrate how personal branding may also pose unintentional and unconscious strategic tool for women academics in academia to help them get wider visibility and increase their chances of getting into leadership positions.


We employed a case study approach and convenience sampling to select our unit of analysis. Three universities in both public and private universities in the eastern regions of Indonesia were purposefully selected, and interviews were held with 30 female leaders occupying and occupied middle and lower leadership hierarchies.


Our research shows that, despite their unintentional, unplanned and poorly designed personal branding, women have been able to advance to their current leadership positions by building their own rooms for practising their own preferred leadership values to get them visible and heard. This way is performed through a gendered networking, previous leadership experience and bureaucratic requirements. The consequence of such a practice may limit the range of visibility to getting noticed as worthy individuals for senior leadership roles. This might be one reason why women are scarcely found in senior leadership positions.


We propose that natural strategies of constructing, narrating and marketing or communicating personal branding in academia through authentic actions can also be helpful for the success of women to get to leadership roles in a smaller and ambient environment.



Heriberta, H., Gaus, N., Paramma, M.A. and Utami, N. (2024), "Advancing women to leadership in academia: does personal branding matter?", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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