As Australia's first-ever female prime minister, authenticity was one way Julia Gillard sought to differentiate herself from Kevin Rudd, the man she had replaced in an uncontested 'leadership spill' in June 2010. Frustrated that the media focussed on superficial aspects such as her appearance, she sought to bring 'the real Julia' to their attention, a ploy that rebounded to her disadvantage in the midst of her handling of Australia's commitments to climate change and the fiery oppositional politics that it aroused.
This case, which includes a teaching note, is designed to seed critical discussion around the topics of 'authentic leadership' and 'women in leadership'. It can also be used to discuss the extent to which gender contributes to how a leader is perceived, portrayed, and judged, and to discuss the role of media in constructing a 'common sense' understanding of leadership.
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