Applying a critical gendered lens, this article examines academic leadership ideals. It draws on a content analysis of job advertisements for Vice-Chancellors at Swedish higher education institutions from 1990 until 2018. The aim of the article is to investigate to what extent masculine or feminine wordings have been used to describe the ideal Vice-Chancellor in these documents. The analysis reveals that a shift in the leadership ideal has taken place during the time period investigated. Before this shift, during the 1990s, the ideal Vice-Chancellor was described as competitive, bold, strong, tough, decisive, driven, and assertive. These wordings are still included in the job advertisements from the 2000s and the 2010s. However, a more communicative and collaborative leadership ideal also emerges during these decades. There is thus a significant shift in how the leadership ideal is described. This shift is analyzed from a gendered perspective, suggesting that the traditional masculine-biased leadership ideal has decreased in influence with the feminine, transformational leadership ideal acting as a counterweight. The article argues that the shift in leadership ideals, as constructed in the job advertisements, mirrors the increase of women Vice-Chancellors appointed in the Swedish higher education sector.
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