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academic leadership gender constraints sense making indonesia

‘The Ties That Bind’: Indonesian Female Academic Leaders’ Agency and Constraints in Higher Education

Maria Jacinta Arquisola

Indonesia has achieved equal parity in access to education, income, and career opportunities. Yet in many parts of the country, female academic leader.


Indonesia has achieved equal parity in access to education, income, and career opportunities. Yet in many parts of the country, female academic leaders are still highly under-represented in top academic boards. This study examines how fourteen (14) Indonesian female higher education academic leaders (FALs) enact identity salience and agency in performing their duties, while experiencing social control schemas or ‘triple binds’—exigencies of gender roles, unequal power-plays due to social status and positions, and lack of organizational resources and capital in higher education—in Indonesia, one of the world’s emerging economies still consolidating democracy and building necessary social, fiscal, and physical infrastructures. Taken as a whole, the study found the ‘triple binds’ as aggregate constraints for female leadership progression, driving female academic leaders to resist and rise above this discursive struggle and confrontation through sense-making, assertiveness, depth of conviction, a take-charge attitude, and the use of other tactical strategies like networking with key gatekeepers to obtain the resources they need. The study presents a framework of the triple binds that university leaders can use to assess constraints to academic leadership.

Keywords: Academic leadership, gender, constraints, sense-making, Indonesia.

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