Hannah and her Sisters: Theorizing Gender and Leadership Through the Lens of Feminist Phenomenology
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This article explores how feminist phenomenology can add conceptual richness to gender and leadership theorizing. Although some leadership scholars engage with phenomenological and existential inquiry, feminist phenomenology receives far less attention. By addressing this critical gap in the scholarship, this article illustrates how feminist phenomenology can enrich gender and leadership scholarship. Specifically, by engaging with the work of four women existential phenomenologists - Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Iris Marion Young, and Sara Ahmed, the rich diversity of phenomenological inquiry is explored. First, Arendt shows the benefits of conceptualizing leadership as collective action, rather than as concentrated in one person, or organization. Second, Simone de Beauvoir highlights how women’s situation, and potential, is affected negatively by gender hierarchy. Third, Iris Marion Young builds on Beauvoir’s work, exploring how female modality is limited by the social construction of gender. Finally, Sara Ahmed takes phenomenology in a queer direction, showing us how normative ways of thinking about sexuality are limiting to those who do not fit the dominant, familiar pattern. Additionally, in the discussion and concluding sections, the merits and limitations of feminist phenomenology are explored as they relate to gender and leadership theorizing, and suggestions for future research are made.
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