This paper examines data from our research into Girls, Leadership, and Women in the Public Eye within a framework suggested by Janet Newman’s (2015) distinction between individual ‘aspiration’ and collective ‘hope’ in political contexts of austerity. The project responds to the contemporary turn to the agentic, aspiring girl as the solution to the gender leadership gap in the future. It explores ways in which girls are enjoined to imagine leadership via high-profile campaigns, and their own envisionings developed through their local experiences and their encounters with highly visible women across a range of media. Our data reveals differences between the aspirational, individualist leadership models promoted to girls and their own preferences for more collaborative leadership as a means of achieving wider social change. We suggest that the concept of ‘leadership’ presented to girls needs to be challenged in terms of its gendered individualism and its failure to capture ways in which they desire to participate in decision making.
Department of History, Philosophy and Culture
Year of publication: 2020Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-05-22