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The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia is now online!

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Date: 1 May 2014

The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia is an exciting new online resource that documents the many and varied ways that Australian women have contributed to Australian public life across the twentieth century. Rather than focus on the women who exercise leadership in contemporary Australia, the encyclopedia focuses on their foremothers, the women who occupied leadership positions during the twentieth century, women of the ‘pre-Google’ age.

Using a definition that eschews traditional hierarchical assumptions of what leaderships entails, preferring to focus on how individuals asserted influence to enlist followers and create change, the encyclopedia adopts a structure that enables exploration of leadership in a variety of contexts. Through a selection of thematic and individual entries, it explores understandings of leadership both within the women-only organisations that sought to inject a female voice into a male-dominated world, and in situations in which women entered as individuals into previously male-only spaces. What the entries show is that while there is no single model of women’s leadership, there are significant clusters of characteristics that make that leadership distinctive in particular times and places and in relation to particular activities.

The Encyclopedia had its origins in an Australian Research Council Linkage grant under the leadership of Professor Patricia Grimshaw at the University of Melbourne. The project, which ran from 2011 to 2013, brought together researchers from the Australian Catholic University, the Australian National University, Griffith University and the University of Melbourne and Linkage partners from the Australian Nursing Federation, the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Archives of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, the National Foundation for Australian Women and the National Library of Australia.

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