Intersectionality in Public Leadership Research: A Review and Future Research Agenda

Rachel A. Breslin, Sheela Pandey, Norma M. Riccucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Intersectionality provides a critical analytic lens for expanding our knowledge of leadership in public organizations as well as highlighting barriers to leadership opportunities. By emphasizing multiple and simultaneous dimensions of social inequality—most commonly gender, race, class, and sexuality—intersectionality reveals the unique experiences of individuals who occupy multiple marginalized social categories. We reviewed literature on public leadership spanning the past 25 years to obtain a sense of whether and how scholars in public administration currently interpret and apply an intersectional perspective to leadership inquiries. We find that a majority of the research we reviewed relied upon a single dimension of social inequality—gender. We identify the contributions made by research that did apply intersectionality’s core concepts as well as the missed opportunities by neglecting it as an analytic tool. We conclude with an agenda for future research that includes a discussion of intersectionality’s methodological challenges and recommendations for overcoming those challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-182
Number of pages23
JournalReview of Public Personnel Administration
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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