Pridatchenko M. V., Shalyutina N. V. Attitudes to women’s leadership in the context of professional subjectivity, p. 48-60

Leadership is interpreted as the quintessence of professional subjectivity, consisting in the ability to become a source of change in the surrounding social reality in order to transform it according to one’s own goals and values. Professional subjectivity is gendered, especially in the sphere of power relations, where it is complicated not so much by objective
institutional barriers as by specific societal expectations towards women and women’s self-esteem. The article presents the results of two studies conducted via online questionnaire survey of Nizhny Novgorod residents and expert semi-formalized interview with women holding leadership positions in different spheres. The highlighted characteristics of professional subjectivity: activity, reflexivity, freedom, creativity and responsibility were examined through the prism of Nizhny Novgorod residents’ attitude towards women leaders. In those spheres where respondents have direct experience of interaction (mid-level female leaders) and in the traditional “female” spheres of economics and politics, respondents demonstrate gender neutrality and approval. Despite the declaration of gender equality, Nizhny Novgorod residents are wary of female leadership: they demonstrate doubts about women’s ability to exercise effective leadership and apply innovative approaches to work. Research conducted by interview method demonstrates that female leaders are oriented in their ideas of the conditions for achieving success on internal, personal resources in the absence of established role models and without the use of social ties. This demonstrates a high level of women’s professional subjectivity, which, however, is limited by the weak institutionalisation of women’s leadership; the state and society declare that women’s career development is limited only by their talents and hard work. Responsibility for “failure” is shifted to women. In this regard, the gendered nature of professional subjectivity lies in the greater activity and responsibility of women leaders, less freedom and creativity. These constraints are imposed on women themselves, seeking to meet the expectations of their environment: to take fewer risks, to show “motherly” concern for their environment, to be predictable and understandable to others. Read in PDF