University-based professional learning for women teachers and the ‘to care’ or ‘to lead’ dilemma

Elizabeth J Done, Mike Murphy, Helen L Knowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The authors consider the recasting of teaching as leadership with reference
to school principals or heads and claim that many women teachers decline
such senior roles and instead prioritize an ethics of care in resistance of
neoliberal performative educational cultures. A future-orientated
poststructuralist version of authenticity or authentic practice derived from
Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault and Grosz is introduced which does not risk
reinforcing gender stereotypes and a consequent political marginalization
of women teachers. Grosz mobilizes the concept of authentic futurity in
relation to feminism, but the authors contend that this concept might
usefully provide women teachers with a less potentially marginalizing
lexicon of resistance, and facilitate localized initiatives informed by an
affirmative poststructuralist ethics embracing contingency and relationality.
Care is interpreted as supporting virtual potentialities and their
actualization. The Deleuzo-Guattarian concepts of ‘becoming-woman’ and
‘becoming-imperceptible’ are explained in relation to ‘active listening’ as a
leadership ‘skill’. The importance of university-based professional learning
in addressing variations in professional capital and problematizing tired
neoliberal discourses concerning leadership, teacher quality and ethics is
emphasized throughout the paper.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProfessional Development in Education
Early online date10 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Structured keywords

  • PolicyBristol
  • teacher learning
  • professional learning


  • professional learning, leadership, feminis poststructuralist ethics


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