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Paradox of gender and leadership in India: a critical review of Mardaani

Jawad Syed (Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan)
Memoona Tariq (Department of Leadership and Diversity, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

South Asian Journal of Business Studies

ISSN: 2398-628X

Article publication date: 2 October 2017




The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the paradoxical and dynamic nature of gender and leadership in India through a critical review of Indian film Mardaani.


The paper offers a critical review of an Indian film and relates the analysis to the context of gender and leadership in India.


The review shows that masculine stereotypes of leadership are simultaneously reinforced and shattered in the Indian context, and that despite all the odds, women’s role in organisations is characterised by dynamism and change. The paper situates this review in the broader context of gender, employment and leadership in India and offers a critical analysis.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis has two implications. First, it indicates that women are equally capable of demonstrating worthy leadership. Second, it highlights that being a leader, or “mannish”, in the workplace does not mean that women are not responsible for the domestic and caring duties at home. In fact, female leaders in India continue to do the double shift by struggling to balance their roles in the workplace and their personal lives.


The paper offers an original analysis of a Bollywood film in the context of gender, culture and leadership.



This paper forms part of a special section on Gender, generation and leadership: insights from South Asia


Syed, J. and Tariq, M. (2017), "Paradox of gender and leadership in India: a critical review of Mardaani", South Asian Journal of Business Studies, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 365-379.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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