Under Representation of Women in Commonwealth Universities by Prof. Shubha Tiwari SignUp
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Under Representation of Women
in Commonwealth Universities
by Prof. Shubha Tiwari Bookmark and Share
 

The Association of Commonwealth Universities published ‘Whispers of Change: Female Staff Numbers in Commonwealth Universities’ in May 2008. The report has been ably edited by Jasbir K.S. Singh, who is consultant to the ACU's gender program. Based on inputs from Commonwealth universities, the report is an effective reminder of the presence (or absence) of women in our educational institutions.

Women are severely underrepresented in our universities. This strong prejudice against presence of women gets even stronger when it comes to top executive positions and administrative heads. Academic leadership is rarely entrusted to women. Women are essentially perceived as sub-ordinates. The doctor-nurse, manager-secretary, officer-P.A. relationship is firmly established in our universities. Women are placed in begging positions; power is essentially perceived as a male dominion. Discrimination against women increases as they move up in the professional ladder. The system does not want participation of women in decision making and policy formation.

Executive Heads of Country:
 

Country Women as % Men as % Total
Australia 9 24.3 28 75.7 37
Bangladesh 0 0.0 12 100.0 12
Botswana 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Brunei Darussalam 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Cameroon 1 25.0 3 75.0 4
Canada 4 12.9 27 87.1 31
Cyprus 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Ghana 0 0.0 5 100.0 5
Guyana 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Hong Kong 0 0.0 3 100.0 3
India 10 9.3 97 90.7 107
Jamaica 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Kenya 0 0.0 7 100.0 7
Lesotho 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Malawi 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Malaysia 1 9.1 10 90.9 11
Malta 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Mauritius 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Mozambique          
Namibia 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
New Zealand 1 12.5 7 87.5 8
Nigeria 0 0.0 25 100.0 25
Pakistan 1 5.0 19 95.0 20
Papua New Guinea 0 0.0 3 100.0 3
Sierra Leone 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Singapore 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
South Africa 0 0.0 14 100.0 14
Sri Lanka 1 7.7 12 92.3 13
Swaziland 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Tanzania 0 0.0 5 100.0 5
Uganda 0 0.0 4 100.0 4
United Kingdom 13 13.8 81 86.2 94
Zambia 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Zimbabwe 1 16.7 5 83.3 6
Common wealth 42 9.8 387 90.2 429

Academics is a single sex profession. If women exist, they exist as pity seekers, 'pleasers' and entertainers. The patriarchal societies all over the world have shown tremendous unity in denying power to women. If the son eats four chapattis, the daughter must eat not more than there. If the brother is six feet tall, the daughter cannot be more than five feet eleven inches. Patriarchal societies love weak women. The point to remember is that weak women make a weak nation and a weak world. If half population is only decorative, docile, and useless stuff, the world can never be a better place. In the era of knowledge - society, half of our population is forced to enter and sustain itself in the system through exploitation and not through its skill and knowledge. Knowledgeable women are considered to be threats. They are called 'unwomanly'. A woman is 'womanly' only when she pleases men. A woman as a boss is not 'womanly'.

The under-presentation of women in Commonwealth universities gets even more intense in faculties of science, technology and engineering. These subjects are perceived as special domains of men. As it is, the whole of the working world is perceived to be the kingdom of men but the technical subjects become even a stronger forte for men. Another feature on expected lines is that the presence of women in universities is better in developed Commonwealth countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain) than in developing countries of the group like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore etc. Top managerial people that surround the Vice-chancellor/Director are often men. Rectors, deans, deputy VCs, Pro VCs and Registrars are mostly men. Women-Registrars are a rare phenomenon.

Heads of Administration (Registrar/Secretary) by Country :

Country Women as % Men as % Total
Australia 8 26.7 22 73.3 30
Bangladesh 0 0.0 12 100.0 12
Botswana 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Brunei Darussalam 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Cameroon 1 20.0 4 80.0 5
Canada 13 44.8 16 55.2 29
Cyprus 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Fiji 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Ghana 0 0.0 5 100.0 5
Guyana 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Hong Kong 0 0.0 3 100.0 3
India 7 6.2 106 93.8 113
Jamaica 1 100.0 0 0.0 1
Kenya 0 0.0 6 100.0 6
Lesotho 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Malawi 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Malaysia 1 16.7 5 83.3 6
Malta 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Mauritius 2 100.0 0 0.0 2
Namibia 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
New Zealand 0 0.0 5 100.0 5
Nigeria 7 25.9 20 74.1 27
Pakistan 0 0.0 15 100.0 15
Papua New Guinea 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Sierra Leone 1 50.0 1 50.0 2
Singapore 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
South Africa 2 16.7 10 83.3 12
Sri Lanka 1 8.3 11 91.7 12
Swaziland 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Tanzania 0 0.0 4 100.0 4
Uganda 1 20.0 4 80.0 5
United Kingdom 19 23.8 61 76.2 80
Zambia 0 0.0 1 100.0 1
Zimbabwe 0 0.0 5 100.0 5
Common wealth 64 16.2 331 83.8 3395

We may note that the position of Registrar/Secretary is very important in administrative terms. We can see in the table that only 6.2% of Registrars in India are women whereas 93.8 are men. A number of countries have the datum of 0% of women-registrars. This clearly shows the tendency of the society towards women. The society does not trust women when it comes to top administrative and financial management.

As pointed out earlier, senior management teams have been monopolized by men. Chief librarians, deans of students welfare, deans of affiliated college, chair persons of different boards are more likely to be men than women. In South Asian countries, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh show a very poor % of women senior managers in universities. Sri Lanka has come out as a happy exception among South Asian countries where women occupy a good % in senior management.

Senior Management Teams by Country:

Country Women as % Men as % Total
Australia 72 32.1 152 67.9 224
Bangladesh 3 7.1 39 92.9 42
Botswana 1 50.0 1 50.0 2
Brunei Darussalam 0 0.0 2 100.0 2
Cameroon 2 10.5 17 89.5 19
Canada 65 33.2 131 66.8 196
Cyprus 1 50.0 1 50.0 2
Fiji 2 33.3 4 66.7 6
Ghana 3 13.6 19 86.4 22
Guyana 1 25.0 3 75.0 4
Hong Kong 1 4.8 20 92.2 21
India 21 9.2 208 90.8 229
Jamaica 6 40.0 9 60.0 15
Kenya 2 8.0 23 92.0 25
Lesotho 3 60.0 2 40.0 5
Malawi 0 0.0 8 100.0 8
Malaysia 5 13.2 33 86.8 38
Malta 0 0.0 4 100.0 4
Mauritius 0 0.0 4 100.0 4
Mozambique 2 100.0 0 0.0 2
Namibia 2 50.0 2 50.0 4
New Zealand 16 28.1 41 71.9 57
Nigeria 15 18.1 68 81.9 83
Pakistan 3 4.9 58 95.1 61
Papua New Guinea 0 0.0 7 100.0 7
Sierra Leone 0 0.0 4 100.0 4
Singapore 4 25.0 12 75.0 16
South Africa 16 26.2 45 73.8 61
Sri Lanka 9 42.9 12 57.1 21
Swaziland 1 33.3 2 66.7 3
Tanzania 1 6.7 14 93.3 15
Uganda 2 9.5 19 90.5 21
United Kingdom 128 25.2 380 74.8 508
Zambia 0 0.0 7 100.0 7
Zimbabwe 4 28.6 10 71.4 14
Common wealth 391 22.3 1360 77.7 1751

In this bleak scenario of intense under representation of women in Commonwealth universities, there are certain 'whispers of change'; there are certain small but significant changes in attitudes. Women are doing better in jobs related to public relations and international collaboration. The report says, 'As in the case of personnel officers, in 2006, a good number of women were employed as international relations officers across Commonwealth universities (76 of 217 or 35.0 percent);' (Page 27). But for India, there is nothing to rejoice even in this field,'.....in South Asian countries, except for Sri Lanka which reported 2 of 2 women international officers, very few women were appointed to this job (Bangladesh 0 of 3, India, 1 of 23 and Pakistan 1 of 10),'. (page 28).

Certain positive trends can be observed when we take up the whole data of Commonwealth universities. Overall, women are doing better in the fields of library management, personnel and public relations, quality assurance and strategic planning. The report says, 'Women chief librarians enjoyed the highest representation at the senior management level. In 2006, 41.5 percent of chief librarians in the Commonwealth were women, an increase from 36.4 percent in 1997. In the developed Commonwealth countries nearly 50 percent chief librarians in their universities were women with a marked increase since 1997. Among Asian countries women were well represented as chief librarians in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, but showed a small decline in numbers from 1997. Sri Lanka had more than 50 percent women chief librarians but in Bangladesh and India there were only between 22 and 25 percent women chief librarians. Women were also well represented as chief librarians in Africa and the small states. Women dominated this field in Fiji, Guyana and Jamaica. This clearly was a field in which women made their presence felt, yet, in 12 of 34 countries which supplied data on this category of staff, men outnumbered women.

Women have continued to make advances in taking up many administrative positions within universities, taking charge of personnel offices, public relations, equity or equal opportunity, international offices, quality assurance or accreditation, staff development and strategic planning. The survey revealed that in 2006 as in 2000, women enjoyed the highest (65.3) representation as heads of equal opportunity or equity offices/units. This was followed by leadership in staff development and training where 40.9 percent women were heading all staff  development training units/centers, a light decline from 42.5 percent in 2000. Women were generally in charge of between 37 percent to 31 percent of personnel, public relations, quality assurance, international, and development offices. Women played a much smaller role in strategic planning (26.8 percent) and computing (13.8 percent), both areas regarded very much as men's domain.'

It is high time that we in India should end our gender bias. The workplace (universities) should provide a congenial and normal atmosphere to women. Women should not be viewed only as sex objects. It does not need any proof now that women have the potential to become excellent administrators, scientists, managers and intellectuals. India can progress only when her women work in healthy circumstances.

References:

  1. Singh, Jasbir K.S. 2008 Whispers of Change: Female Staff Numbers in Commonwealth Universities. London: Association of commonwealth Universities. All the quoted line and tables are from the above mentioned report.

Related Reading:

  1. Dines, Elizabeth (ed.) (1993). ‘Women in Higher Education Management’. Paris: UNESCO/Commonwealth Secretariat.
  2. Lund, Helen (1998). ‘A Single Sex Profession?  Female Staff Numbers in Commonwealth Universities’. London: Commonwealth Higher Education Management Services.
  3. Smulders, Anna, E.M. (1998) ‘Creating Space for Women: Gender linked Factors in Managing Staff in Higher Education Institutions’. Paris: UNESCO, International Institute of Educational Planning.
  4. Singh, Jasbir K.S. (2002). ‘Still a Single Sex Profession? Female Staff Numbers in Commonwealth Universities’. London. Association of Commonwealth Universities.
5-Sep-2011
More by :  Prof. Shubha Tiwari
 
Views: 1351
 
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