Women leaders: The social world of health care

Center for Women's Health Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Journal of Health Organisation and Management (Impact Factor: 0.36). 05/2011; 25(2):159-75. DOI: 10.1108/14777261111134400
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a microcosm of the complexities that women face in a masculine environment.
Ten women administrators were selected from one Southeastern University in the USA, using criterion sampling. The interviews of five women from male-dominated colleges (greater than 50 percent male faculty-MD) and five from female-dominated fields (FD) were analyzed. For further study, the texts of the four women from healthcare colleges were compared with the six from non-healthcare fields. Interviewees were asked questions about their background, leadership and power. Confidentiality was adhered to according to the university's IRB guidelines and policies.
The social world of the healthcare Deans was evident and was shaped around a "rigid hierarchy of authority and power" that goes beyond gender and is stratified among health-related professions.
This examination of the hierarchical discourse of power within the social world of healthcare gives valuable instruction for women's negotiation through adaptation.

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    • "Harding, 2005; Wikström, 2009; Fulop and Day, 2010; Endrissat and von Arx, 2013). Health care organisations have historically been built on rigid structures of authority and power (Isaac, 2011) where the duality of the structure encapsulating doctors and nurses – which seems to be carved in stone – creates extra tensions. Health care organisations in Finland are no exception. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Not only does leadership produce changes, but those changes produce leadership in organisations. The purpose of this paper is to present a theoretical and empirical analysis of the transformation of leadership at two different historical points in a health care organisation. It leans on the perspective of social constructionism, drawing especially from the ideas of Berger and Luckmann (1966). The paper seeks to improve understanding of how leaders themselves construct leadership in relation to organisational change. Design/methodology/approach: The empirical material was gathered in a longitudinal case study in a nursing organisation in two different historical and situational points. It consists of written narratives produced by nurse leaders that are analysed by applying discourse analysis. Findings: The empirical study revealed that the constructions of leadership were dramatically different at the two different historical and situational points. Leadership showed up as a complex, fragile and changing phenomenon, which fluctuates along with the other organisational changes. The results signal the importance of agency in leadership and the central role of "significant others". Originality/value: The paper questions the traditional categorisation and labelling of leadership as well as the cross-sectional studies in understanding leadership transformation. Its originality relates to the longitudinal perspective on transformation of leadership in the context of a health care organisation.
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