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A women-only leadership development program: Facilitating access to authority for women in Swedish higher education?

Journal article
Authors Helen Peterson
Published in Social Sciences
Volume 8
Issue 5
Pages 1-14
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 1-14
Language en
Keywords Higher education, Leadership development program, Rectors, Sweden, Women-only
Subject categories Gender Studies, Work Sciences, Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


© 2019 by the authors. This article explores a national women-only leadership development program in Swedish higher education, the so-called IDAS program (an acronym for Identity, Development, Advancement, Support). IDAS encouraged and supported women academics to pursue leadership/administrative careers in higher education and was a unique intervention, aiming to increase the number of women Rectors. By drawing on interviews with some of the women who participated in the IDAS program and subsequently became Rectors, the article provides a valuable case study over best practices to increase women senior leaders in higher education. Notwithstanding the success of the leadership program, the article also deals with resistance and criticism linked to equal opportunity initiatives such as this. The article analyzes the criticism voiced by the women interviewed and suggests that it can be understood in relation to different conceptions of gender and gender (in)equality.

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