"Iron fists in velvet gloves"

New research from Dr Eleni Meletiadou explores the experiences of female leaders in higher education throughout the covid-19 pandemic.

Date: 8 June 2022

A new paper from London Met’s Dr Eleni Meletiadou investigates female leaders’ experiences in Higher Education during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, to understand both the barriers and opportunities they faced.

It also examines their leadership and crisis management principles amidst the pandemic. Dr Meletiadou indicates that the addition of unique female perspectives and leadership styles will afford gender-diverse senior leadership teams (SLTs) a leadership capability advantage over equally talented yet homogeneous male teams, particularly in times of crisis, such as the pandemic. 

The study suggests that increasing female representation in SLTs may have a substantial and direct impact on overall leadership capabilities and elicit positive performance effects during crises. Notably, and unique to this study, she shows that feminine traits and inclusive leadership styles may be more effective in contemporary leadership contexts than generally believed. 

Despite limitations, the study highlights the facilitators of female leaders’ advancement and indicates that redefining capabilities of successful leaders by taking into consideration the current pandemic and modern trends such as reverse mentoring and gender-neutral recruitment may assist to eliminate gender bias and highlight attractive traits that female leaders bring to the table.

The study was presented at the Applied Research Conference (ARC 2022) of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). It will soon be published open source online on CIPD’s website and promoted through its monthly roundup of research, ‘In a Nutshell’, to over 160,000 Human Resource managers and related professionals around the world.

CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development with over 160,000 members around the world. CIPD champions better work and working lives by improving practices in people and organisation development helping to ensure that work benefits individuals, businesses, economies, and society. It advances knowledge and understanding about people management and development and their impartial research gives media and policymakers valued insights on the world of work. Moreover, it provides guidance for the future of the people profession and drives change.

‘In a Nutshell’ provides regular overview of current research, inspiring insights, and cutting-edge ideas in bite-size chunks for CIPD members. It provides the latest developments and innovations from around the world of work, including up-to-date evidence and provocations from the leading thinkers in academia and at the top of the profession. HR professionals enjoy reading them as they help them make the best impact they can through their work.

Dr Eleni Meletiadou has been working with CIPD as a London Enterprise Advisor supporting New City College in its effort to design its career strategy and as a Steps Ahead Mentor supporting young people who want to take their first step on the career ladder for the past three years.

She is an Expert member of the European Association of Language Testing Assessment, Chair of the European Association of Educational Assessment (AEA-Europe) Inclusive Assessment Special Interest Group, the Conference Track Chair of the British Academy of Management (BAM) Knowledge and Learning Special Interest Group, and the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Doctoral Accelerator Mentor

Her forthcoming Handbook of Research on ‘Implications of Sustainable Development in Higher Education: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment’ publishes with IGI Global in January 2023.