Using a qualitative interview approach, this study analyzes the experiences of women in academic leadership positions in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. An exploration of the extent of the relevance of Western research on female academic leadership is used to explain the experiences of female leaders in Kazakhstan. The results of the study are consistent with the results of prior studies conducted in other countries and can be largely explained by existing theories. One distinctive feature of the experiences of female leaders in Kazakhstan is the superimposition of three dominant cultures – traditional, Soviet, and Westernized neo-liberal, which impose multiple conflicting expectations. Kazakhstani women are obliged to maintain multiple identities when communicating with their colleagues, superiors and extended family members. The exact outcome of the work–life balance negotiation depends, among other factors, on the type of ownership and geographic region of a university. The study also reveals that neo-institutional theory, not conventionally used in the analysis of female leadership in academia in the West, may be particularly relevant for explaining female experiences in transitional and developing contexts; specifically, in explaining the constraints imposed by informal policy networks and corruption.
- Female leadership
- gendered organization
- women leaders in higher education
- work–life balance
ASJC Scopus subject areas