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Young women and the co-construction of leadership

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Purpose ‐ Young women's leadership is an area frequently overlooked in educational leadership development. This paper aims to bring young women's voices into educational leadership conversations and illustrate an alternative approach to young women's leadership development. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This qualitative action research study was located in an urban girls' high school in New Zealand. The researcher worked in partnership with 12 young women and used a process of co-construction to design a leadership development programme. The young women then participated in, evaluated and modified the programme before teaching it to another group of students. Findings ‐ Co-construction was an effective way to develop a relevant and authentic leadership programme that met the needs of the young women, however, the process was extremely complex. The findings indicated that this approach challenged existing views of teaching and learning and was an active process that required significant efforts to balance input and share ownership between the researcher and the young women. Research limitations/implications ‐ The findings highlighted the importance of including young women in decision-making processes related to their leadership learning. Future consideration in this area could relate to creating a sustainable leadership culture in schools by engaging this process across year levels. Originality/value ‐ This paper outlines an alternative approach to leadership development in high schools that could be used in a number of contexts as these findings related to women's youth leadership development have implications on leadership development for women at all levels.
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Keywords: Age groups; Education; Individual development; Leadership; New Zealand; Women

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 28, 2010

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