Quiet in the mind: women leading during crisis explored through a lens of hope

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Empirical studies of crisis leadership have historically been limited to analyses of particular events, captured in themes of flexibility, care and the importance of communication as a response. Since 2020, the crisis has been global, demanding immediate and multiple pivots for school leaders. While care and communication are particularly incumbent on the leadership work of women, gendered perspectives of leadership during this crisis have been limited. This paper shares the experiences of crisis leadership through a case study of women principals in Australia, examined through a lens of hope, to identify the ways in which these women leaders negotiate crisis. Findings highlight the outward manifestations of hopeful actions balanced by the inward moments of silent contemplation. Data were collected through a series of focus groups which were part of a larger study. The stories and reflections were thematically analysed and inform a discussion of the significant moments of self-protecting silence- quiet in the mind- critical to navigating the blockages triggered by crisis, and to sustaining the agency to step into demands of care and risk. The paper concludes with thoughts on future research implications that are mindful of how women negotiate the spaces within and beyond crisis work through hope.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalSchool Leadership and Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • crisis leadership
  • educational leadership
  • Hope
  • hope theory
  • women in leadership

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