Gender identities and career aspirations of middle leaders: Cases in Hong Kong secondary schools

Pik Lin Jocelyn CHOI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine gender identities of Chinese male and female middle leaders in secondary schools and how gender dynamics play in the leadership process and impact on career aspirations and career development. Design/methodology/approach – This paper draws on the data of a larger qualitative study conducted using the life history approach. Cases of four male and female middle leaders, which are able to demonstrate the “efficacy” of life stories to enhancing our appreciation of the process of gender negotiation and the impact of gender dynamics on leadership behaviour, are reported. Findings – Evidence suggests that traditional Chinese gender identities played out in the leader-follower relationships although signs of hybrid gender identities were also evident in some cases. Gender identities and the family role perception of the middle leaders have impact on their career aspirations and development. Research limitations/implications – Findings yield implications for the professional development needs of Chinese middle leaders not only regarding their professional role but also their personal understanding of how gender identities and family role perception impact on their career development. Further study with overlapping and complementary methods to a larger sample could be more illuminating to this complex and multifaceted issue. Originality value – In the context of global concerns about the shortage of leader talent, the present study illuminates gender identities and the dynamics of the interactions between Chinese superiors and subordinates of different sexes and adds perspective to the leadership development literature. Copyright © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-53
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013



Choi, P. L. (2013). Gender identities and career aspirations of middle leaders: Cases in Hong Kong secondary schools. International Journal of Educational Management, 27(1), 38-53.


  • Middle leader
  • Gender identities
  • Chinese gender system
  • Career development
  • Career aspiration
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • Gender
  • Leadership