In “Examining leadership through critical feminist readings,” Jackie Ford argues that evaluations of leadership have been simplistic and biased. She faults research that tries to identify certain innate personal traits within leaders. She challenges research that presents the leader as a hero or guru. Ford points out that people undertaking the research are invested in the leadership construct, so their findings aren’t exactly impartial.
In the latter half of her article, Ford argues for leadership that’s not defined by masculine qualities but by traits that are often linked to femininity, including empathy, collaboration, and listening. Ford appears to posit that masculine notions of leadership continue to dominate.
In “What Can Feminism Offer Student Leadership Education?” the three authors seem to share some of the concerns that Ford addresses in her article. The scholars argue that too much emphasis is placed on leadership and technical solutions. They argue that feminism isn’t monolithic and that power should be revamped in order to address the myriad voices and identities that make up feminism.
The authors see this realignment of power in the context of higher education. They believe empowering college students to become leaders beneficially disturbs the boundaries between leadership roles and feminism.
As for how the two articles relate to the current crisis of gender and leadership in the media industry, think about why all four authors might be wary of the notion that female leadership in the media industry will produce substantive, fundamental change for women from all walks of life. Crisis or not, it seems like both articles are trying to get away from the kind of charismatic, heroic leader that media industries tend to promote.