forum-member-magazine-spring-2015-mind-the-gender-gap

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forum-member-magazine-spring-2015-mind-the-gender-gap

Discussing international education

EQUITY

IN ACCESS

UNMASKING INEQUALITIES 13

MIND THE GENDER GAP 18

EQUITY THROUGH RECOGNITION 24

PUTTING THE INTERNATIONAL IN EQUITY 38

SPRING

2015


18

EAIE FORUM

SPRING 2015

Over a decade ago, all

UN countries acknowledged

the need for

better opportunities for

women in higher education.

Despite best intentions,

the gender gap

remains, but Gulu University’s

commitment to

women is inspirational.

gender disparity

in all levels of education no

“Eliminating

later than 2015” was the joint

commitment of all UN countries in 2002.

If this commitment had had any sizeable

impact, many more women would by now

have reached, even graduated from, tertiary

education. And we can assume that significant

numbers would by now be employed

at universities. This is not what EP-Nuffic,

the national expertise and service centre

for internationalisation in education in

the Netherlands, observes. The number of

women among students and staff at partner

universities in the South is so low in general

that EP-Nuffic capacity development

projects still primarily benefit men. As far

as equal opportunities are concerned, the

gender gap is far from being closed.

GENDER AS A THEME

EP-Nuffic is commissioned by the Dutch

Ministry of Foreign Affairs to manage a

capacity development programme: The

Netherlands Initiative for Capacity development

in Higher Education (NICHE).

This is a programme funded by the Dutch

Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strengthen

postsecondary education in partner

countries. As in similar programmes in

other countries, gender is an important

transversal theme. Experience from earlier

programmes has shown EP-Nuffic that

merely including gender as a cross-cutting

issue without concrete accompanying

measures has hardly had any impact. In

2008, a gender review of these programmes

indicated a very low commitment

to gender equality from stakeholders


EQUITY

IN ACCESS

19

2013 GENDER MEASURES

Total expected outputs

Realised outputs 2013

303

250

236

265

157

122

31

26 28

23

Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH (shutterstock)

Gender

analysis

performed

Actions taken

to improve

gender balance

staff and

students

Actions taken

to improve

capacity of

staff to

address

gender issues

Female staff

that followed

leadership

training

Other

at all levels. Nearly none of the projects

had addressed gender concerns. Without

strategy or steering, very little change was

achieved.

EP-Nuffic responded by putting

gender equality higher on the agenda and

integrated it in all the phases of project

development and implementation, and in

all corresponding procedures and instruments.

A stronger accountability framework

for the projects was established.

In 2011, EP-Nuffic held a workshop

for African NICHE partners to discuss

gender issues and strategies. After all these

measures, EP-Nuffic performed an internal

analysis in 2012, 1 which revealed how

complex and challenging it is to achieve

gender balance in capacity development of

higher education.

CONCRETE MEASURES

Data collected in 2013 from 121 NICHE

projects in 18 countries provides valuable

information about achievements after the

new measures were put in place. (Note:

a project may target several training

institutions.)

The graph above illustrates the degree

to which concrete measures to advance

gender equality (in the organisation,

among staff) are planned and implemented

at partner institutions.

In addition:

• All projects include at least one, often

several, gender experts – international

as well as local;

• 63 partner institutions have developed

a gender policy – 144 plan to develop

one;

• 120 curricula, mostly within agriculture,

water management or health,

have integrated a gender perspective;

• 65 research topics so far focus on

gender;

• 157 women are involved in project

management.

In 2013, 250 women participated in

leadership training, and the proportion of

women in short training sessions (visits,

courses) is 36%.


20

EAIE FORUM

SPRING 2015

2013 SCHOLARSHIPS FOR DEGREE TRAINING

Women

Men

52%

48%

50% 50%

The graph above shows the woman-toman

ratio for degree training scholarships.

For PhD degree training, the figures indicate

planned or on-going degree studies

from a sample of 70 projects.

DOES IT HELP TO SET A QUOTA?

To close the gap, projects should assign

70–100% of scholarships to women over

a number of years. Many projects propose

a percentage of 50%. Others follow (less

ambitious) national policies in the partner

countries where they operate, with targets

of 20 or 30%. At that rate, the gender gap

will not be closed in the foreseeable future.

Often, when the time comes to select

candidates for postgraduate programmes,

many project partners find it hard to identify

qualified women, especially within

technical and agricultural subjects. In spite

of available gender expertise to help them,

implementers seem incapable to analyse

the causes of the disparities, let alone

address them. Too often they allocate all

the available scholarships to men, going

against the intention of the programme.

In general, EP-Nuffic observes that

many projects have difficulty going further

than raising awareness. Addressing

gender inequalities is seen as an imposition

and as a problem of women to be resolved

by women. Projects shy away from

changing attitudes and addressing deeper

cultural discriminatory practices, whether

39%

61%

28%

Diploma BSc MSc PhD

72%

intentional or not. During the average

project period of four years, implementers

fail to substantially improve the gender

balance.

It is reasonable to assume that individuals

with postgraduate qualifications, especially

at the doctoral level, have the best

career perspectives and the best chances

to become influential leaders. Potentially,

they have the most impact when it comes

to organisational change and equitable

career development among staff. But most

women in capacity development projects

opt for, or are assigned to, short courses,

missing out on the chance to become

agents of change.

CREATING A CRITICAL MASS IS AN OPTION

In an innovative approach, the Faculty

of Agriculture and Environment at Gulu

University in Northern Uganda has found

a way to attract young women to agricultural

studies. There, the project produced a

video for teaching and advocacy purposes

titled Going for Agric, Harvesting Magic;

women voices in agriculture. Produced by

ICRA and MOOV-ON, the educational

films encourage girls to study science and

agriculture. Gulu University shows the

video at high schools in the region to stimulate

girls to opt for agricultural studies.

With support from the NICHE project,

the university contacted a group of high

school students about to enter higher

education. Not surprisingly, it appeared

that these students had a stereotyped

view of the kind of professions open and

suitable to them. The students mentioned

becoming medical doctors as their favourite

option – maybe as a result of a lack of

knowledge about career opportunities in

other professions – and all were concerned

about girls being able to combine work

with family duties.

Gulu University arranged interviews

for the group with five successful women

professionals in agriculture: a farm manager,

a researcher, an extension agent,

a seed retailer, and a bank employee.

Through their discussions with these

professionals, the students received good

presentations of the variety of career

opportunities.

They were also told how the lives of

these women had changed thanks to their

professions, their financial autonomy and

the support of their families – in particular

their mothers and their husbands. These

discussions were an eye-opener for both

the girls and the boys in the group.

The project then assisted the girls in

summarising their findings and discussing

their options. Parents were invited into the

school for a session during which the girls

successfully negotiated with them their

decision to study agriculture as a ‘marketable’

career option.

A strong scene from the documentary

remains with the viewer: the visit to

the farm manager, where the husband is

clearly proud of his wife’s career. This is a

good model of the workplace of the future;

attractive and fulfilling for both sexes.

— MIRIAM LANGEVELD & HÉLÈNE

BERNOT ULLERØ

1. Complexities of gender mainstreaming in higher

education capacity development programmes

www.nuffic.nl/en/library/complexities-of-gendermainstreaming-in-higher-education-capacitydevelopment-programmes.pdf

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