Special issue


Scholarly articles on international academics have been weighted towards understanding their broad personal and professional challenges related to teaching. Limited research is conducted with international women academics in Australia in, especially, exploring their leadership-related challenges and opportunities. Using an intersectionality lens, this paper addresses this gap by exploring key related challenges and opportunities for international women academics in gaining leadership positions at Australian universities. It draws on qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with seven international women academics. The findings contribute to the body of knowledge in exploring two major challenges faced by international women academics in Australia: 1) administrative-related interruption impacting their research performance; and 2) lack of understanding of university policies and processes. International women academics also cited the opportunities provided to them or gained by them for their overall professional growth at Australian universities. The practical implications of these findings for international women academics and higher education institutions are also considered.

Practitioner Notes

  1. International women academics are provided with leadership position opportunities at Australian universities.
  2. International women academics face leadership-related challenges due to differing university work culture compared with their home countries.
  3. As women academics, they are resilient by taking full responsibility for learning local knowledge of university policies and systems as well as managing their time effectively in performing their roles efficiently.
  4. Australian universities are in fact making efforts to provide the support needed by international academic leaders who also happen to be women.
  5. International women leaders stressed the importance of having two mentors: one Australian and the other an international-origin academic.