Constructing Women Leaders’ Identity
2nd Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Leadership Symposium
Leader emergence is a complex adaptive process (DeRue, 2011). To become a leader, a leadership identity needs to be both internalised and recognised by others. According to DeRue and Ashford (2010), this involves a set of relational and social processes that enable not only the leader to see her/himself as a leader, but for others to accept her/him in that role. If leader roles are socially constructed, then the social context matters, both to the identity development and effectiveness of the leader (Ibarra, Wittman, Petriglieri and Day, 2014). The individual engages in identity work within their social context through which they “acquire, internalize and validate a leader identity and refine, revise and enact their other identities so as to minimize conflict with the leaders identity and maximise group prototypicality” (Epitropaki, Kark, Mainemelis and Lord, forthcoming, p.8). DeRue and Ashford’s ‘claim and grant’ construction occurs within a social context which will have its own ideologies about the characteristics of a leader (e.g. assertive, decisive, agentic, etc.) and these generally gendered institutional biases will impact the identity work of potential women leaders (Ely, Ibarra and Kolb, 2011). Social role theory (Eagly and Karau, 2002) predicts that integrating leader identity with a self-concept as a woman is problematic “in a culture that is deeply conflicted about her authority” (Ely and Rhode, 2010, cited in Ibarra, et al. 2014, p.16). Considering the interplay of leadership identity development and gender processes, what then is the process by which non-typical leaders emerge? [...] References available on request.
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Leadership Symposium, 4-6 May 2017, Mykonos, Greece