Globalization and Women in Southeast Asian Higher Education Management
by Carmen Luke — 2002
This paper draws on data from a group case study of women in higher education management in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. I investigate culture-specific dimensions of what the Western literature has conceptualized as "glass ceiling" impediments to women's career advancement in higher education. I frame my argument within recent debates about globalization and "glocalization" to show how the push–pull and disjunctive dynamics of globalization are experienced in local sites by social actors who traverse global flows and yet remain tethered to local discourses, values, and practices. All of the women in this study were trained in Western universities and are fluent English speakers, world-class experts in their fields, well versed with equity discourses, and globally connected on international NGO and academic circuits. They are indeed global cosmopolitans. And yet their testimonies indicate that so-called Asian values and religious-cultural ideologies demand the enactment of a specific construct of Asian femininity that militates against meritocratic equality and academic career aspirations to senior management levels. Despite the global nature of the university and increasing global flows of academics, students, and knowledge, the politics of academic glass ceilings are not universal but always locally inflected with cultural values and norms. As such, the politics of disadvantage for women in higher education require local and situated analyses in the context of global patterns of the educational status of women and the changing nature of higher education.
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