Special issue


This quantitative and qualitative study explores the leadership challenges for women academics in the Hong Kong academy. It is informed by the theoretical lens of intersectionality and Mohanty’s feminism, which seeks to give a voice to women in different nations and regions. Findings show that the majority of women did not feel supported to enter a leadership role and that the perceived barriers to doing so differed between women academics and senior male leaders. Academic women are negotiating several identities, the most pertinent of which relates to being Chinese or non-Chinese, in addition to age, length of time in the profession, and rank. Power and patriarchy were identified as the most influential factors limiting women’s potential. Practice-based interventions that developmentally start with what women want are discussed. Key messages from the research are the need for a level of consciousness-raising, and the education of men, in relation to the barriers academic women face, along with widespread support for the development of a sector-wide women academics’ leadership programme.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Familiarity with the extensive research evidence that relates to the barriers and enablers to women academics becoming leaders in higher education by senior leaders will better support policy interventions. A research-informed approach to gender equity by senior leaders would provide a more effective framework to promote organizational culture change.
  2. There is a strong appetite amongst women academics in Hong Kong to attend a sector-wide women’s academic leadership programme. The development of such a programme could be taken forward by the President’s committee, in conjunction with the University Grants Committee.