What is a Gender Script?

  • by: Miriam Hirsch and Terry Astuto

Miriam Hirsch is an Assistant Professor of Education at Stern College, Yeshiva University. Terry Astuto is a Professor of Educational Administration at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development, New York University.

Read the accompanying article here.

Gender scripts reflect the roles individuals are shaped to play via forces of culture, social organization, and power dynamics. Blackmore (2002) presents a set of eight gender scripts for women in educational administration that are both “complex and contradictory” (p. 56):

  • Being Strong: This script expects a woman to show strength in the face of adversity, discrimination, and resistance, and while retaining a good nature and a “niceness” throughout.
  • Superwoman: This script calls upon the woman to be all things to all people no matter the personal cost.
  • Leadership over Love: This script recalls the spinster teacher of nineteenth century lore who satisfied her maternal instinct by caring for other people’s children.
  • Postmodernist: Women are seen as good change agents in organizations, outside of male networks and peripheral to the dominant culture.
  • Women’s Style of Leadership: Women bring a unique skill set including caring, listening, sharing, interpersonal communication strengths and empathic skills.
  • Power: Women are powerful because of the knowledge and shared cultural experiences of being female; power is seen as productive rather than repressive.
  • Professional Success: This script reads the achievement of women as individual exertions of meritorious hard work.
  • Social Male: Women are seen as aggressive, dominant, individualistic, and non-supportive to other women.

Blackmore, J. (2002). Troubling women: The upsides and downsides of leadership and the new managerialism. In C. Reynolds (Ed.), Women and school leadership: International perspectives (pp. 49-69). Albany, SUNY Press.

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