Findings discussed during “Women in Cultural Leadership” forum at the Museum of Islamic Art
Doha, Qatar, October 9, 2019: UCL Qatar hosted a panel discussion titled “Women in Cultural Leadership” at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on 8 October 2019. The event brought together speakers from some of Qatar’s most iconic cultural institutions to discuss the significant impact women leaders have on the rapid development of the museum and cultural sector in Qatar. Participants included Sheikha Reem Al-Thani, Director of Exhibitions at Qatar Museums (QM), Shaikha Nasser Al-Nassr, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at MIA, and Clemence Bergal, Head of Acquisitions and Collections at QM.
The theme of cultural leadership and the role women play within the sector has received increasing attention in recent years. However, the contribution of female leaders in shaping the development of museums in the Gulf, and Qatar in particular, is overlooked. The panel’s theme was one component from a research study by Dr Catharina Hendrick, Lecturer of the MA in Museum and Gallery Practice at UCL Qatar. Catharina’s research project seeks to uncover the ways these ambitious women lead their teams and the organisation.
Preliminary research findings showed that there is great respect within the cultural sector for female leaders in Qatar, particularly due to the existence of strong role models such as Chairperson of QM, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. In fact, Qatari and non-Qatari women hold the majority of leadership positions in QM and across the museum sector in the country and come with a high level of education and experience.
The research also found that, these female leaders tend to adopt a transformational leadership style, which employs emotional intelligence. This style of leadership is visionary and focuses on the long-term direction of the organisation, and fosters a culture of collaboration and nurtures and develops staff through a mix of participative and directive leadership. This means that leaders lead by example, are confident, empathetic and look at the bigger picture when making decisions.
Commenting on the event, UCL Qatar’s Dr Hendrick stated: “Women have played an important role in the journey towards growing Qatar into a vibrant cultural hub in the region and today’s panel discussion was a celebration of these achievements. We were proud and pleased to share our insights and experiences, which we hope would inspire young women to pursue careers in the cultural heritage sector. These talented leaders will play an active role in Qatar’s cultural development in the future.”
UCL Qatar organised this public event as part of its role as a centre of excellence for the study of cultural heritage and knowledge management. These events serve as a platform for dialogue and engagement for the public.