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Book Chapter

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Buddhist Studies | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


For Buddhists, the epitome of enlightened leadership is the Buddha himself. The Buddha, the “awakened one,” led by teaching a path to awakening that is open to all. The path to awakening – a process of purifying the mind of afflictions, such as greed, hatred, and ignorance – can be followed by women and men alike. Traditionally, however, the fact that the Buddha, the model of human perfection, was male seemed to imply to future generations that men were more somehow more capable of awakening than women. This impression was bolstered by the eight special rules attributed to the Buddha that assigned nuns a subordinate status within the Sangha (monastic order). As a consequence, it became customary in Buddhist societies to give greater opportunities to monks than to nuns, men than to women, and boys than to girls. Historically, monasteries for monks were the democratically organized training centers for Buddhist leadership and over the centuries most Buddhist leaders have been male. Nuns lived in separate monastic centers that were similarly organized, but because they depended on the monks for certain rituals, a gender hierarchy developed. However, the subordinate status of nuns is at odds with the Buddhist theory that mind has no intrinsic gender, hence there is no inherent impediment to women’s enlightenment. Women have equal potential for liberation and therefore should have equal access to Buddhist knowledge and training. Any impediments to women’s full participation in the tradition are impermanent and can be removed. Based on this logic, today Buddhist women are initiating widespread changes for women around the world.


Table of Contents

Part I: Feminist Theories of Leadership
Chapter 1: Overview: Feminist Theories of Leadership
Chapter 2: The Development of Children's Perceptions of Leadership
Chapter 3: The Consequences of Gender for Women's Political Leadership
Chapter 4: Intersectionalities of Race and Gender and Leadership
Chapter 5: Women's Leadership within their Communities
Chapter 6: Women's Political Ambition
Part II: History of Women's Public Leadership
Chapter 7: Overview: History of Women's Public Leadership
Chapter 8: Women's Leadership and Third-Wave Feminism
Chapter 9: Women as Leaders in Congress
Chapter 10: Women as Leaders in Executive Service
Chapter 11: Women Judges as Leaders
Chapter 12: Women as Leaders in the Military
Chapter 13: Women in State Legislatures
Chapter 14: Women in Local Government
Spotlight: Shirley Franklin
Chapter 15: Viewing Women's Political Leadership Through a Rural Electoral Lens: Canada as a Case Study
Chapter 16: Women's Organizations as Leaders in Finding and Supporting Female Candidates
Chapter 17: Roadblocks on the Path to Political Leadership: Women's Roles in Congressional Elections, Incumbency, and Parties
Chapter 18: The Mentor Gap: A Barrier to Women in Legislative Leadership
Part III: Women's Leadership in Social Movements
Chapter 19: Overview: History of Women Leaders in Social Movements
Chapter 20: Women as Leaders in the Progressive Movement
Chapter 21: Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement
Spotlight: Anita Hill
Chapter 22: Women as Leaders in the Latina/o Movement
Chapter 23: Women's Leadership in the Environmental Movement
Chapter 24: Women's Leadership in Liberal PACs
Chapter 25: Women as Leaders in Conservative Women's Organizations
Chapter 26: Women as Leaders in Lesbian Organizations
Chapter 27: Women's Leadership in the Domestic Violence Movement
Chapter 28: Women's Leadership in the Fight Against Human Trafficking
Chapter 29: Women as Leaders to Achieve Equal Rights in the Workplace
Chapter 30: Women Leaders in the Peace/Antiwar Movements
Part IV: Women's Leadership in the Global Context
Chapter 31: Overview: Women's Leadership in the Global Context
Chapter 32: Women's Leadership and the United Nations in the Global Women's Rights Movement
Spotlight: Melanne Verveer
Chapter 33: Women as Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Government Ministers
Chapter 34: Women's Political Leadership in the European Union
Chapter 35: Women's Leadership in Africa
Chapter 36: Women's Leadership in Latin America
Chapter 37: Women's Leadership in the Middle East and North Africa
Chapter 38: Women's Leadership in the South Pacific
Chapter 39: Women's Leadership in Asia
Chapter 40: Women's Leadership in Japan and Taiwan
Chapter 41: Women's Leadership in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Belarus
Chapter 42: Women's Leadership in Eurasia
Part V: Women's Leadership in the Business and Profit Sector
Chapter 43: Overview: Women Leaders in the Business and Profit Sector
Chapter 44: Women as Leaders in the Union Movement
Chapter 45: Women as Leaders in International Microfinance
Chapter 46: Women as Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
Spotlight: Mary Kay Ash
Chapter 47: Women Lawyers as Leaders
Chapter 48: Women's Leadership in Corporate America
Part VI: Women's Leadership in Religion and Religious Organizations
Chapter 49: Overview: Women as Leaders in Religion and Religious Organizations
Chapter 50: Women as Leaders in Buddhism
Chapter 51: Women as Leaders in Catholicism
Chapter 52: Women as Leaders in Hinduism
Chapter 53: Women as Leaders in Islam
Chapter 54: Women as Leaders in Judaism
Chapter 55: Women as Leaders in Mormonism
Chapter 56: Women as Leaders in Pentecostal/Charismatic Religions
Chapter 57: Women as Leaders in Protestant Denominations
Part VII: Women's Leadership in Academia
Chapter 58: Overview: Women as Leaders in Academia
Chapter 59: Women as Leaders in Women's Colleges
Chapter 60: Women's Leadership in Education: University Presidents
Chapter 61: Women's Leadership in Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Chapter 62: Women's Leadership in the Development of African American Studies
Chapter 63: Women's Leadership in the Development of Latina/o Studies
Chapter 64: Women's Leadership in the Development of American Indian Studies
Chapter 65: Women's Leadership in the Development of Women and Gender Studies
Spotlight: Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
Chapter 66: Women's Leadership in Biology
Chapter 67: Women's Leadership in Mathematics
Chapter 68: Women's Leadership in Anthropology
Chapter 69: Women's Leadership in Economics
Chapter 70: Women's Leadership in Political Science
Chapter 71: Women's Leadership in Sociology
Chapter 72: Women's Leadership in Engineering
Part VIII: Leadership in Women's Health
Chapter 73: Overview: Leadership in Women's Health
Chapter 74: Women's Leadership in the Development of Nursing
Chapter 75: Women's Leadership in the Development of Medicine
Spotlight: Alvenia Fulton
Chapter 76: Women's Leadership in Psychology
Chapter 77: Women's Leadership in the Reproductive Rights Movement
Chapter 78: Women as Leaders in the Contraceptive Movement
Spotlight: Margaret Sanger
Part IX: Women's Leadership in the Media
Chapter 79: Overview: Women in the Media
Chapter 80: Women as Leaders in Broadcast TV News and Print Journalism
Chapter 81: Women as Leaders in the Digital Age
Chapter 82: Women as Leaders in Television
Chapter 83: Women as Leaders in Public Relations
Chapter 84: Women as Leaders in Alternative Media
Chapter 85: Women as Leaders in Television News
Spotlight: Barbara Walters
Part X: Women's Leadership in Sports
Chapter 86: Overview: Women in Sports
Chapter 87: Women's Leadership in the Olympic Movement
Chapter 88: Women's Leadership in the Enactment and Enforcement of Title IX
Chapter 89: Women as Leaders in Intercollegiate Athletics
Chapter 90: Women as Leaders in Professional Sport
Spotlight: Billie Jean King
Chapter 91: Women as Leaders in Sports Education
Part XI: Women's Leadership in the Arts
Chapter 92: Overview: Women in the Arts
Chapter 93: Women's Leadership in the Fine Arts
Chapter 94: Women's Leadership in the Performing Arts
Chapter 95: Women's Leadership in Western Music Since 1800
Chapter 96: Women Writers as Leaders
Chapter 97: Women's Leadership in Fashion Design
Chapter 98: Women's Leadership in Romance Fiction Scholarship
Chapter 99: Women's Leadership in Interior Design
Part XII: Women's Leadership in Public Policy
Chapter 100: Overview: Women's Leadership in Selected Public Policy Advocacy Arenas
Chapter 101: Women's Political Leadership: What's Wrong With the American State and How to Fix It
Spotlight: A Woman President?


Originally published in Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook (vol. 2). Edited by Natalie Green and Karen O’Connor. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2010, pp. 482–89.