In this article, I argue that women in senior leadership positions in universities continue to face a number of tensions and ambiguities in their everyday working lives. Drawing on the metaphors of ‘looking good’ and ‘being good’, I highlight the gendered assumptions that senior women encounter. As senior leaders, women are simultaneously required to negotiate an inherently masculine culture yet at the same time are expected to exercise a level of femininity. Their physical presence, appearance, clothing, gestures, and behaviours are central to the bodily exercise of leadership. As the data presented illustrate, women’s leadership bodies and bodily performances reflect gendered institutional norms and assumptions about how leaders should look and act.
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