In the past several months as I’ve been working hard developing a new feminist leadership development program for undergraduate women, I continue to be amazed at the disparate relationship between “feminism” and “leadership”. Many recent models of leadership (including the one we are using, the Social Change Model of Leadership) are very much aligned with feminist principles; however, these models do not explicate this alignment or theoretical allegiance. Perhaps this isn’t necessary. Yet, as I’ve delved into the world of leadership (and namely, feminist leadership), I find there to be a serious and curious gaping hole between these seemingly incommensurate concepts and methodologies. I believe this hole leaves unquestioned and uncritiqued current notions of leadership (and power) as gendered. Furthermore, refusing to question this gap reinforces the power structures that feminism supposedly seeks to disrupt.
Just because we (personally) are feminist, does not mean that we practice feminist leadership! I have experienced this disconnect personally and have felt betrayed and frustrated by the leader herself, the community in which I participated, and myself for not successfully addressing this theory-to-practice disconnect. I am desperately curious about the practice of feminist leadership. What makes leadership feminist? How do/can we hold ourselves accountable to feminist values and goals? What do such models look like, in practice?
What better way to really grapple with these questions that to turn my critical eye onto my own feminist praxis? I hope that my doing so in a public space, others interested in similar questions will join me in dialogue. Certainly, I identify as a feminist and attempt to practice this system of beliefs in my everyday life as mother, professional, person. And so, here I go! As William Morris points out in “The Aims of Art”, “The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” This blog will enable my paying attention to my life’s details in order to be better, happier.