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This book, now in paperback, examines the impact of neo-liberal discourses and practices on the traditional caring and development ethos of public services such as education. Drawing on intensive case studies of the appointment process and the experiences of newly appointed senior managers in the education sector in Ireland, the book explores the gendered nature of neo-liberal reform from the perspectives of both men and women in each of the main education sectors. Using feminist and egalitarian theory, it highlights the structural and cultural impediments which undermine attempts to break through the glass ceiling of senior management appointments. It explores how organizational cultures combine with 'local logics' in the appointment process of senior managers, as well as universal trends in what 'counts' as effective managerial practice. The book also highlights the stresses, strains and identity conflicts among newly appointed senior managers as they seek to marry broader vision for education in an increasingly competitive and performance driven environment and evaluates the implications of such practice for the wider educational culture and its capacity to combine care and family with the demands of the leadership role.