University Of Tasmania

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'I was completely oblivious to gender': an exploration of how women in STEMM navigate leadership in a neoliberal, post feminist context

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 19:51 authored by Meredith NashMeredith Nash, Robyn MooreRobyn Moore
Women are under-represented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) fields worldwide, particularly in leadership positions. We explore this phenomenon by examining the leadership experiences of 25 women who were actively seeking to enhance their leadership capacities in STEMM fields from five countries in the Global North. We argue that women in this study seemed to be caught in an ‘ideological dilemma’ between recognizing sexism and gender bias in their organizational contexts and seeing their organizations as gender neutral. We argue that a post-feminist climate and a neoliberal ethic of meritocracy in science render inequality difficult to articulate and address. Considering this dilemma through the lens of ‘cruel optimism’, we suggest that women are problematically bound to a fantasy of success in STEMM in which leadership is attainable through arduous effort.


Publication title

Journal of Gender Studies










School of Social Sciences


Carfax Publishing

Place of publication

Rankine Rd, Basingstoke, England, Hants, Rg24 8Pr

Rights statement

© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other culture and society not elsewhere classified; Expanding knowledge in commerce, management, tourism and services; Expanding knowledge in human society