‘Intersectional collaboration’: a new form of leadership from the WomenEd movement

Boparai, Rosie and Darlington, Michelle (2024). ‘Intersectional collaboration’: a new form of leadership from the WomenEd movement. School Leadership & Management (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13632434.2024.2349033


This paper takes an interest in tackling inequalities in school communities and considers how networks of change agents can work together to enact change. To do so, an ethnographic study is conducted examining WomenEd, a charity and grassroots movement of aspiring and existing women leaders in education. Building upon the perspective of collective leadership as a social process, the ‘social-symbolic work’ perspective is applied to analyse the activities of the movement. By drawing upon observations and interviews conducted over a three-year period, this paper offers detailed depictions of the motivations, practices, and effects of the social-symbolic work of WomenEd. The study observes a form of collective leadership underpinned by valuing difference, which enables participants to respond to oppressive school conditions and achieve shifts in autonomy and agential institutional influence. The study thus advances understanding of collective power, or ‘power with’, and the practical activities which can affect change, ‘power work’. Building upon Crenshaw's concept of intersectionality, we term the WomenEd practices ‘intersectional collaboration’, a novel form of collective leadership for social change. The study highlights the significance of inclusion and intersectionality in theorising ‘collectivity’, which has implications for understanding collective leadership and social change.

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