chapter  4
19 Pages

Mainlining the motherboard

Exploring gendered academic labour in the university
ByKirsten Locke, Susan Wright

This chapter begins with a brief statistical sketch from two universities, one in New Zealand and one in Denmark, to illustrate the feminised cohort of students and academics that constitutes the contemporary university. It explores a historical instance of women entering the modern university as 'human computers' through a discussion of Pickering's Harem. The chapter moves from a discussion of the gendered workforce to the development of the motherboard metaphor through an analysis of the feminised and masculinised forms of leadership that appear in contemporary management practices in the public sector. It revisits the motherboard theme in light of the previous theoretical and empirical analyses in order to open up space beyond a discourse of caring leadership and reconsider gender equity in the university project. The chapter highlights the unacceptability of the university institution 'mainlining' its female workers to provide the 'motherboard' for the university engine.