University of Sussex
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Gender and leadership in higher educational institutions: exploring perceptions and practices in University of Cape Coast, Ghana

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:43 authored by Isaac Ohene
The purpose of this study is to examine the level of female participation in leadership activities in the University of Cape Coast (UCC). Leadership is experienced at various levels within the university - student, staff, committee and management levels in the university. However, the positions are mainly held by men. This study examined the institutional structures and cultural factors responsible for the dearth of women in leadership and why it is necessary to have more women vigorously involved in the decision-making in the university. Few women reaching the top have managed it successfully because of the exposure to various forms of institutional and cultural barriers. This state of affairs works against the effective utilization of human resources in the university. Ensuring that all individuals irrespective of their gender are equally motivated to participate in the decision-making process holds the potential for maximising the human resources within the university. In this study, the barriers to female participation in leadership have been explored. A qualitative research design guided the study. Twenty semi-structured interviews, participant observation and the use of unobtrusive observation were the main data collection techniques adopted. For data analysis, 'open and axial' coding approaches based on the inductive and deductive reasoning were utilised. A significant outcome of the study includes the fact that very few women are in head of departments and deanship positions. Women are almost absent in the top administrative echelon. Females occupy only designated 'vice/deputy' positions in students and staff unions. However, few academic women who have reached the top have managed successfully. The study concludes by expressing the view that women in UCC face several challenges which impede their progress towards leadership aspirations. These include institutional structures and culturally entrenched norms. Based on these findings and conclusions, a number of recommendations have been made to improve the chances of women in both academic and administrative departments to break the glass-ceiling and advance into leadership positions. These include the following: (1) the need for professional development opportunities for women to enable them to pursue postgraduate programmes after which they could be employed as administrators or academics, and (2) the institutionalization of policies in support of the reservation of quotas for women in some leadership positions, including chairing some of the sub-committees of the Governing Council and the Academic Board to ensure fair participation of women in critical decision-making levels in the university.


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