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Management and Gender in Higher Education

Project Description

This project is part of a cross national study of senior management in eight countries (UK, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland). It is particularly concerned with locating higher education in a wider societal context as well as exploring the relevance of gender and organisational models (particularly collegiality/managerialism) in understanding the experiences of those in, what are effectively, elite positions in universities.

Thus it explores the extent of the power of senior management within these organisations, as well as the limits of that power in the context of the wider constraints of the state and the market. It looks at the pathways into these positions; at the explanations offered for the scarcity of women in them; it explores stereotypical ideas about management styles; and senior managers’ identification of the valued characteristics and competences of those in these positions in their own organisation. It looks at their experiences of being in senior management: in terms of the interactional context; in terms of the content of the job itself and its perceived advantages/disadvantages as well as their commitment to a managerial position.

Principal Investigator

Prof Pat O’Connor


The project was undertaken as part of a wider cross national study and a number of publications have emerged in collaboration with the members of that group, individually and collectively.

External Partners

Prof Barbara Bagilhole (Loughborough University); Prof Anita Goransson (Uppsala University); Prof Teresa Carvalho (CIPES and Aveiro); Dr Kate White (Ballarat, Australia)



Grant Source

IRCHSS, Swedish Research Council, etc.

Project Outputs

  • O'Connor, P (2014) Management and Gender in Higher Education. Manchester: MUP (distribution by Palgrave MacMillan in US)
  • O'Connor, P. and Carvalho, T. (2014) ‘Different or similar: constructions of leadership by senior managers in Irish and Portuguese universities’, Studies in Higher Education, 06/2014, 1-28 (online).
  • O’Connor, P. Carvalho, T. and White, K. (2014) ‘The Experiences of Senior Positional Leaders in Australian, Irish and Portuguese Universities: Universal or Contingent?’ Higher Education Research and Development: Special Issue on Leadership, 33 (1): 5-18 (online)
  • O'Connor, P. and Goransson, A. (2014) 'Constructing or Rejecting the Notion of Other in Senior University Management: The Cases of Ireland and Sweden', Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 1741143214523015, first published on June 17, 2014
  • O’Connor, P. (2014) ‘Understanding success: A Case Study of Gendered Change in the Professoriate’, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 36(2) 212-224 (online)
  • O’Connor, P. and White, K. (2012) ‘Similarities and differences in Collegiality/ Managerialism in Irish and Australian Universities’ Gender and Education 27 (3): 903-920
  • O'Connor, P. (2012) ‘Irish Universities: Male Dominated? Limits and Possibilities for Change?’ Equality, Diversion and Inclusion: An International Journal 31 (1): 83-96
  • O'Connor, P. (2011) 'Where do women fit in university senior management? An analytical typology of cross national organisational cultures', B. Bagilhole and K. White (eds) Gender, Power and Management: A Cross Cultural Analysis of Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan pp168-191
  • O'Connor, P. (2010) ‘Gender and Organisational Culture at Senior Management Level: Limits and Possibilities for Change?’ in J. Harford and C. Rush (eds) Women and Higher Education in Ireland 1850-2010. Have Women made a Difference? Oxford: Peter Lang pp139-162 (online)
  • O'Connor, P. (2010) ‘Is Senior Management in Irish Universities male dominated? What are the implications?’ Irish Journal of Sociology 18 (1): 1-21 (online)