A Call to Praxis: Using Gendered Organizational Theory to Center Radical Hope in Schools

Kathryn Fishman-Weaver


While organizational theory is a helpful analytical framework for educational leadership, it has a key depth problem—the absence of feminist voices.  Some scholars have responded to this problem by gendering organizational theory.  This scholarship offers an important, albeit still seldom used, reference for educational leadership. Teasing gendered organizational theories apart through three distinct feminist lenses (liberal, radical, and postmodern) offers nuanced practical possibilities for school leadership. As a call to praxis, this paper proposes a new framework for equitable, hope-based decision making in schools. This model uses gendered organizational theory to imagine more equitable schools and districts


organizational theory; gender; feminism; PK-12 schools; leadership

Full Text:



Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations. Gender and Society. 4(2), 139-158.

Acker, J. (2006). Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class and Race in Organizations Gender and Society 20(4), 441-464.

Acker J. & Van Housten, D. (1992). Differential Recruitment and Control: The Sex Structuring of Organizations In Mills, A & Tancred P’s Gendering Organizational Analysis (pp. 15-31).Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications.

Alvesson, M. & Willmott H. (1992). Critical Theory and Management Studies: An Introduction. In M. Alvesson & H. Willmott, Critical Management Studies (pp. 1-20). London: Sage.

Beane C., Kawashima-Ginsberg, K., Kiesa, A., & St. Rose, A. (2014). Closing the Leadership Gap: How educators can help girls lead Women in Academia Report. http://image.email.nea.org/lib/fe8e1570706d037873/m/2/Girls+Leadership+Report.pdf

Belenky, M., Clinchy, B., Goldberger, N., & Tarule, J., (1997). Women’s Ways of Knowing: the development of self, voice, and mind. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Bell, M., Mclaughlin, M., & Sequeria, J. (2002). Discrimination, Harassment, and the Glass Ceiling: Women Executives as Change Agents, Journal of Business Ethics, 37(1), 65-76.

Bolman L.G & Deal, T.E. (2010). Reframing the Path to School Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Publishers.

Bolman, L.G., & Deal, T.E. (2013). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Burnier D. (2003). Giving Voice to Gender in the MPA Classroom: Teaching Organization Theory with a Gender Emphasis. Journal of Public Affairs Education 9(4), 275-283.

Burrell, G. (1984). Sex and Organizational Analysis. Organization Studies. 5(2), 97-118.

Calás, M. & Smircich, L. (1992) Using the “F” Word: Feminist Theories and the Social Consequences of Organizational Research. In Mills A. & Tancred P.’s Gendering Organizational Analysis (pp.222-235). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE publications.

Collins, P. (2000). Black Feminist Thought. New York, NY: Routledge.

Cornwell, A. (2000). Selections from Black Lesbian in White America. In Crow B’s Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader (pp. 443-450). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Cotter, A., Hermsen, J., Ovadia, S., & Vanneman, R. (2001) The Glass Ceiling Effect, Social Forces, Oxford University Press. 80(2), 655-681.

Crenshaw, K. (1989) Demarginalziing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum. 140 139-167.

Crotty, M. (2013) Feminism: re-visioning the man-made world In M. Crotty The Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process (pp. 160-176) St. Leonard’s, Allen & Unwin.

Crow, B. (2000). Introduction: Radical Feminism. In Crow B.’s Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader (pp. 1-11). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Dixon M. (2000). Why Women’s Liberation? In Crow, B.’s Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader (pp. 67-71). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Donner, W. (1993). John Stuart Mill's Liberal Feminism. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic. 69(2), 155-166.

Dopp, B. & Sloan, C. (1986). Career Development and Succession of Women to the Superintendency, The Clearing House, 60(3), 120-126.

Duerst-Lahti, G. & Kelly R. (1990). Gender and Style in Bureaucracy. Women and Politics 10(1), 67-100.

Ebert, T. (1991). The "Difference" of Postmodern Feminism, National Council of Teachers of English. 53(8), 886-904.

Fishman-Weaver, K. (2016). Viewpoint: Are You an Effective Leader? Check Your Micro-ethics. Principal Leadership https://www.principals.org/news-and-resources/publications/principal-leadership/principal-leadership-archives/principal-leadership-volume-17-2016-17/principal-leadership-september-2016/september-2016-viewpoint?SSO=true

Flax, J. (1987). Postmodernism and Gender Relations in Feminist Theory. Signs 12(4), 621-643.

Fry, L. W. (2003). Toward a theory of spiritual leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 14(6), 693– 727.

Gilligan, C. (1982). In A Different Voice. Boston: MA, Harvard University Press.

Glass, T. (2000). Where Are All the Women Superintendents? AASA’s latest study on the profession suggests seven reasons why female numbers still lag in top district posts. AASA, the School Superintendents Association.


Glasser, W. & Gough, P. (1987) The Key to Improving Schools: An Interview with William Glasser. The Phi Delta Kappan. 68(9), 656-662.

Granka, P. (2014). Intersectionality: A Foundations and Frontiers Reader. Boulder, CO; Westview Press.

Grey, C. (2004). Reinventing Business Schools: The Contribution of Critical Management Education, Academy of Critical Management Education. Academy of Management Learning and Education 3(2), 178-186.

Groenke S. (2010). Seeing, Inquiring, Witnessing: Using the Equity Audit in Practitioner Inquiry to Rethink Inequity in Public Schools. English Education, 43(1), 83-96.

Halberstam, J. (1991). Automating Gender: Postmodern Feminism in the Age of the Intelligent Machine. Feminist Studies. 17(3), 439-460.

Hearn, J. & Parkin P. (1992). Gender and Organizations: A Selective Review and a Critique of a Neglected Area. In Mills A. & Tancred P.’s Gendering Organizational Analysis (pp. 46-66). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

hooks, b. (2000). Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.

Hochschild , A. (2003). The Second Shift. New York: Penguin Books.

Johnson, B. (1992). The Postmodern in Feminism. Harvard Law Review. 105(5), 1076-1083.

Lorde, A (1979). The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House. In Lorde, A. (2003) Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde (pp.110-114). New York: NY. Ten Speed Press.

MacDermid, S., Jurich, J. Myers-Wall, J., & Pelo, A. (1992). Feminist Teaching: Effective Education. Family Relations (41)1 31-38.

Mack-Canty, C. (2004) Third-Wave Feminism and the Need to Reweave the Nature/Culture Duality, NWSA Journal, 16(3), 154-179.

McWilliams, A. & D. Siegel. (2001). Corporate Social Responsibility: A Theory of the Firm Perspective. Academy of Management Review. 26(1), 117-127.

Meier, K. & Wilkins, V. (2002). Gender Differences in Agency Head Salaries: The Case of Public Education. Public Administration Review, 62:(4), 405-411.

Mill, J. & Taylor H. (1870). From The Subjection of Women. In Kolmar W. & Barkowski F.’s (2000) Feminist Theory: A Reader (pp.67-75). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.

Mills, A. (1992). Organization, Gender, and Culture. In Mills A. & Tancred P.’s Gendering Organizational Analysis (pp.93-112). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

Mills A. & Tancred P. (1992). Gendering Organizational Analysis (pp.31-45). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE

Morgan, R. (1977). Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist. New York: Random House.

The New Teacher Project (2012). The Irreplacebles. Reimagine Teaching. http://tntp.org/publications/view/the-irreplaceables-understanding-the-real-retention-crisis

Prasad, A. & Mills A. (2010). Critical Management Studies and Business Ethics: A Synthesis and Three Research Trajectories for the Coming Decade. Journal of Business Ethics. 94(2), 227-237.

Rich A. (1980) Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience. In

Kolmar W. & Bartkowski’s Feminist Theory: A Reader (pp. 304-312). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishers.

Sanchez, J., Thorntorn, B. & Usinger, J. (2009). Increasing the Ranks of Minority Principals Developing School Leaders, 67(2) http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct09/vol67/num02/Increasing-the-Ranks-of-Minority-Principals.aspx

Sheppard, D. (1992). Women Manager’s Perception of Gender and Organizational Life. In Mills A. & Tancred P.’s Gendering Organizational Analysis (pp.151-167). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

Supervile, D. (2016). Few Women Run the Nation's School Districts. Why? Education Week. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/11/16/few-women-run-the-nations-school-districts.html?r=1993015025&cmp=SOC-EDIT-FB

Tancred-Sheriff, P. & Campbell, E. (1992). Room for Women: A Case Study in the Sociology of Organizations. In Mills A. & Tancred P.’s Gendering Organizational Analysis (pp.31-45). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

Thompson, A. (2003). Caring in Context: Four Feminist Theories on Gender and Education Curriculum Inquiry, 33(1), 9-65.

Ware, C. (2000). The Relationship of Black Women to the Women’s Liberation Movement. In Crow B.’s Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader (pp. 98-113). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Wendell S. (1987). A (Qualified) Defense of Liberal Feminism. Hypatia, 2(2), 65-93.


  • There are currently no refbacks.