Key Issues for Gender Research in HRD: A Multi-Stakeholder Framework for Analysing Gendered Media Constructions of Women’s Leaders

Sharon Mavin, Jannine Williams

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Abstract

Gender research can be a highly political process with significant impact, positively or negatively, on the researcher(s) and research participants. As a result there are key issues for consideration when preparing to undertake gender research in Human Resource Development (HRD). Gender research in HRD requires a mature level of researcher reflexivity in terms of personal understandings of gender; individual researcher values, philosophical positions and standpoints on gender; motivations for research; awareness of how gender research may construct researchers in their own professional settings and how research participants may respond to gender research. We contend that a process of researcher reflexivity, in critically reflecting upon and reviewing individual assumptions and standpoints, is essential before beginning gender research. Gender is a significant dimension of personal life, social relations and culture: an arena where we face difficult practical issues about justice, identity and even survival; where there is much prejudice, myth and falsehood, and where social sciences gender research is producing a relatively new form of knowledge (Connell, 2009). This chapter outlines key issues for gender researchers illustrated through research into gendered media constructions of women leaders. We introduce the importance of women leaders and gender aware learning and HRD and outline understandings of gender; diverse advances in gender research; consistency, harm, pleasure and power; participant-research relationships and the researcher’s position in gender research, by drawing upon our previous studies. We then present the key issues in practice, through our operationalization of a Multi-Stakeholder Framework for analysing gendered media constructions of women leaders. We utilize a mixed method design (Saunders, 2012) of statistical analysis of secondary data on women in senior positions in a UK region (geographies of gender); analysis of three Supplements of the Top 500 Influential Leaders via discourse analysis; a semi-structured interview with a media producer; group and individual interviews with selected aspiring and current women leaders and stages of on-going researcher reflexivity and accountability. We conclude with reflections on the constraints and possibilities of the multi-stakeholder framework approach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research Methods on Human Resource Development
EditorsMark Saunders, Paul Tosey
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages464
ISBN (Print)978 1 78100 923 9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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