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Women in the Nigerian University System: achievements, challenges & Prospects – Professor Aina at Iju Public Affairs Forum (1 of 2)

April 4, 2014

Iju Public Affairs Forum

The gender issue is big across the globe because having female populations engaged in every facet of development is needed for accelerated development.  There are startling revelations in Professor Aina’s paper:  that even within academia where many of the lofty ideas about bridging gender gaps are hatched, there exist gaps between the sexes in admissions and in employment.

I’m posting this on a Friday morning so that you can take on the short story-length full paper over the weekend.  Those in Nigeria with ever-widening social commitments may want to read the summary below first which the Iju Public Affairs Forum has kindly provided and later go on to read the paper.  TOLA, April 4, 2014.

 

 

Professor Aina provides an overview of educational development in Nigeria from pre-Amalgamation through the colonial era to the post-independence years and stresses the importance of education as a veritable tool for personal advancement as well as for economic growth and national development. She highlights the phenomenon of gender gap in education that was due to cultural and economic factors and cites as an illustration the admission into Nigeria’s premier university in Ibadan in 1948 with only three females and one hundred and one males.

To demonstrate the persistence of gender gaps through the decades to the present, she provides some gender statistics covering both public and private universities that currently number 128 (40 federal-owned, 38 state-owned, and 50 private). The gender statistics include admissions (2000-2008) with females constituting about 40% of total and out-turn figures for doctoral students (2005/2006 session) with 30% of the total population being women. Strikingly, the data on scholarship awards by gender for 2006 and 2007 reveal a mere share of between 11% and 14% for the three types of scholarship examined (Commonwealth, British educational institutions and PTDF).

Regarding women in leadership positions in the university system, Professor Aina’s finding is what she labels as the “masculinisation of the academic”: only sixteen women have been appointed vice-chancellors (eight are still in post) and in the different clusters that constitute “management staff” in the universities (Principal Officers, Governing Council Members, Deans/Directors and Professors) women constitute between 16% and 25%. These proportions are inferior to the overall share of women academics across the disciplines in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, about one-third of the total.

According to her, the explanations for the persistence of gender inequalities in the Nigerian university system include the extension of patriarchy and other gender stereotypes in society to academia that has remained male-centric; the failure of governments (federal and state) to pay attention to gender priorities in education budgets; and institutional and environmental factors such as gender unfriendly teaching and learning environment and gender-based violence within the university system.

However, Professor Aina acknowledges that several educational policies adopted by governments from the 1980s to the present would, if faithfully implemented, help to reduce gender inequality in education in the country. The examples she cites include the Blueprint on Women’s education (1986), the Strategy for Acceleration of Girls’ Education in Nigeria (2003) and the National Gender Policy (2006). But she notes that none of these policies is directly focused on universities and other tertiary institutions.

Notwithstanding the challenges that women face in Nigeria’s university system that Professor Aina has highlighted, she admits that university education has recorded significant achievements for Nigerian women: “Today, educated Nigerian women are making strides in various professions, including non-traditional female professions such as engineering, aviation industry, extractive industry, architecture, computer science amongst others. More Nigerian women are also moving into the Board rooms, taking vital business decisions along-side their male counterparts because of their educational credentials. Expectedly, this number will continue to increase with the high wave of women now yearning for university education.”

To bridge gender gaps and engender the Nigerian university system, Professor Aina proposes gender mainstreaming as a tool for institutional and social transformation in the university system. Specifically, gender mainstreaming would require: (i) each university to invest in its structural transformation to support gender equity standards and (ii) individual academics (male and female) to abandon traditional value orientations that support gender inequities.

Finally, she would like gender to be institutionalised within the existing academic and administrative structures of the university. To this end, she recommends the development of a Gender Equity Policy for each university. The objectives of the Strategy should include promoting a gender-friendly, inclusive and secure teaching and learning environment; bridging gender gaps in students’ admission and staff recruitment; promoting increased participation of women in decision-making at all levels; and engendering university budgets.

Professor Aina provides an overview of educational development in Nigeria from pre-Amalgamation through the colonial era to the post-independence years and stresses the importance of education as a veritable tool for personal advancement as well as for economic growth and national development. She highlights the phenomenon of gender gap in education that was due to cultural and economic factors and cites as an illustration the admission into Nigeria’s premier university in Ibadan in 1948 with only three females and one hundred and one males.

To demonstrate the persistence of gender gaps through the decades to the present, she provides some gender statistics covering both public and private universities that currently number 128 (40 federal-owned, 38 state-owned, and 50 private). The gender statistics include admissions (2000-2008) with females constituting about 40% of total and out-turn figures for doctoral students (2005/2006 session) with 30% of the total population being women. Strikingly, the data on scholarship awards by gender for 2006 and 2007 reveal a mere share of between 11% and 14% for the three types of scholarship examined (Commonwealth, British educational institutions and PTDF).

Regarding women in leadership positions in the university system, Professor Aina’s finding is what she labels as the “masculinisation of the academic”: only sixteen women have been appointed vice-chancellors (eight are still in post) and in the different clusters that constitute “management staff” in the universities (Principal Officers, Governing Council Members, Deans/Directors and Professors) women constitute between 16% and 25%. These proportions are inferior to the overall share of women academics across the disciplines in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, about one-third of the total.

According to her, the explanations for the persistence of gender inequalities in the Nigerian university system include the extension of patriarchy and other gender stereotypes in society to academia that has remained male-centric; the failure of governments (federal and state) to pay attention to gender priorities in education budgets; and institutional and environmental factors such as gender unfriendly teaching and learning environment and gender-based violence within the university system.

However, Professor Aina acknowledges that several educational policies adopted by governments from the 1980s to the present would, if faithfully implemented, help to reduce gender inequality in education in the country. The examples she cites include the Blueprint on Women’s education (1986), the Strategy for Acceleration of Girls’ Education in Nigeria (2003) and the National Gender Policy (2006). But she notes that none of these policies is directly focused on universities and other tertiary institutions.

Notwithstanding the challenges that women face in Nigeria’s university system that Professor Aina has highlighted, she admits that university education has recorded significant achievements for Nigerian women: “Today, educated Nigerian women are making strides in various professions, including non-traditional female professions such as engineering, aviation industry, extractive industry, architecture, computer science amongst others. More Nigerian women are also moving into the Board rooms, taking vital business decisions along-side their male counterparts because of their educational credentials. Expectedly, this number will continue to increase with the high wave of women now yearning for university education.”

To bridge gender gaps and engender the Nigerian university system, Professor Aina proposes gender mainstreaming as a tool for institutional and social transformation in the university system. Specifically, gender mainstreaming would require: (i) each university to invest in its structural transformation to support gender equity standards and (ii) individual academics (male and female) to abandon traditional value orientations that support gender inequities.

Finally, she would like gender to be institutionalised within the existing academic and administrative structures of the university. To this end, she recommends the development of a Gender Equity Policy for each university. The objectives of the Strategy should include promoting a gender-friendly, inclusive and secure teaching and learning environment; bridging gender gaps in students’ admission and staff recruitment; promoting increased participation of women in decision-making at all levels; and engendering university budgets.

 

Ms. Olabisi Aina is a professor and Director, Centre for Gender and Development Studies
Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti

 

FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2014.  11:10 a.m. [GMT]

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2 Comments on “Women in the Nigerian University System: achievements, challenges & Prospects – Professor Aina at Iju Public Affairs Forum (1 of 2)”

  1. Nnah Says:

    The level of women molestation in education is very aggravating how ever it could be improved through proper orientation and education of cultural habits which have become bastardized.

    Like

    Reply

    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Nnah,

      I agree with your contribution on this important subject that does not get attention from government agencies like the law-enforcement arms – the police – or the judiciary when cases are prosecuted. Everybody along the chain – males, mostly – seem subscribed to the age-old lie that it is the women’s fault.

      Regards,
      TOLA.

      Like

      Reply

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