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Leading at the Border: Gender, Sex and Sexuality in Hypergendered Organizations

By Michèle Bowring


The leadership literature, although very well established, has paid limited attention to the differences between people, even when it has examined the different ways in which women and men may lead. In particular, any attention to those differences has been as if sex and gender are the same, while sexuality has been ignored.\ud The conceptual framework for my thesis comes from Butler’s (1990) work on the performativity of gender and her discussion of the heterosexual framework. Therefore, in this thesis I attempt to address the deficiencies above by answering the following questions:\ud How do/can people construct identities that transcend the heterosexual matrix?\ud As people construct their identities as leaders, do they seek to reconcile all their other identities into a coherent whole with their identity as a leader?\ud To what extent are leadership, sex, gender and sexual identities ‘fixed’ or ‘static’?\ud How do queer or borderline identities intersect with leadership?\ud I explore these questions by interviewing 34 leaders of varying sexes, genders and sexual orientations. These respondents were active and retired members of the military and nursing in the UK, Canada or the US.\ud Perhaps the most significant finding was that for these respondents, their body trumped the other two aspects of identity, i.e., their gender and their sexuality, when developing and enacting their leadership within these hypergendered organizations

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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