Diversity in Leadership

Diversity in Leadership

Australian women, past and present

Edited by: Joy Damousi, Kim Rubenstein orcid, Mary Tomsic

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While leadership is an over-used term today, how it is defined for women and the contexts in which it emerges remains elusive. Moreover, women are exhorted to exercise leadership, but occupying leadership positions has its challenges. Issues of access, acceptable behaviour and the development of skills to be successful leaders are just some of them.

Diversity in Leadership: Australian women, past and present provides a new understanding of the historical and contemporary aspects of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women’s leadership in a range of local, national and international contexts. It brings interdisciplinary expertise to the topic from leading scholars in a range of fields and diverse backgrounds. The aims of the essays in the collection document the extent and diverse nature of women’s social and political leadership across various pursuits and endeavours within democratic political structures.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Nov 2014
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: History; Business & Economics; Social Sciences: Gender Studies, Indigenous Studies, Politics & International Studies, Sociology

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Part I. Feminist perspectives and leadership

  1. A feminist case for leadership (PDF, 198KB) – Amanda Sinclair doi

Part II. Indigenous women’s leadership

  1. Guthadjaka and Gargulkpuy: Indigenous women leaders in Yolngu, Australia-wide and international contexts (PDF, 421KB) – Gwenda Baker, Joanne Garŋgulkpuy and Kathy Guthadjaka doi
  2. Aunty Pearl Gibbs: Leading for Aboriginal rights (PDF, 207KB) – Rachel Standfield, Ray Peckham and John Nolan doi

Part III. Local and global politics

  1. Women’s International leadership (PDF, 640KB) – Marilyn Lake doi
  2. The big stage: Australian women leading global change (PDF, 198KB) – Susan Harris Rimmer doi
  3. ‘All our strength, all our kindness and our love’: Bertha McNamara, bookseller, socialist, feminist and parliamentary aspirant (PDF, 844KB) – Michael Richards doi
  4. Moderate and mainstream: Leadership in the National Council of Women of Australia, 1930s–1970s (PDF, 197KB) – Judith Smart and Marian Quartly doi
  5. ‘Part of the human condition’: Women in the Australian disability rights movement (PDF, 948KB) – Nikki Henningham doi

Part IV. Leadership and the professions

  1. Female factory inspectors and leadership in early twentieth-century Australia (PDF, 1.1MB) – Joy Damousi doi
  2. From philanthropy to social entrepreneurship (PDF, 1.1MB) – Shurlee Swain doi
  3. Academic women and research leadership in twentieth-century Australia (PDF, 2.0MB) – Patricia Grimshaw and Rosemary Francis doi

Part V. Women and culture

  1. Beyond the glass ceiling: The material culture of women’s political leadership (PDF, 186KB) – Libby Stewart doi
  2. Entertaining children: The 1927 Royal Commission on the Motion Picture Industry as a site of women’s leadership (PDF, 200KB) – Mary Tomsic doi
  3. Women’s leadership in writers’ associations (PDF, 1.0MB) – Susan Sheridan doi

Part VI. Movements for social change

  1. Collectivism, consensus and concepts of shared leadership in movements for social change (PDF, 1.6MB) – Marian Sawer and Merrindahl Andrew doi
  2. Passionate defenders, accidental leaders: Women in the Australian environment movement (PDF, 1.2MB) – Jane Elix and Judy Lambert doi
  3. Consuming interests: Women’s leadership in Australia’s consumer movement (PDF, 221KB) – Jane Elix and Kate Moore doi


‘This is a very impressive collection that throws new light on both Australian leadership and the nature of ‘leadership’ itself. The feminist insights driving the project have resulted in the uncovering of much-neglected histories of women’s leadership.’
—Carol Johnson, Australian Historical Studies, Volume 47(2), 2016.

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