During the closing of the High Education Resources Services programme at Grand Global Hotel in Makerere, Mr Chrysostom Muyingo, said his ministry (Education) would like to see more women appointed as leaders of universities, specifically as vice chancellors.
At the event, which took place on June 5, the minister said the ministry is fed up of the fights at public universities; he attributed the infighting to male dominance and stated that the men do not usually want to give others a chance to lead.
While there would be need for a well-done research to find out whether the infighting is primarily due to men’s dominance, what is certainly clear is that we need more women to lead our academic institutions.
Out of the nine public universities in the country, only two have had female vice chancellors, namely Prof Christine Dranzoa of Muni University and Prof Mary Jossy Nakhanda Okwakol, who recently retired from Busitema University. While this is progress, more needs to be done to encourage, train and raise up women to take up these leadership positions.
Of course, for one to take up such a mantle, they must have many attributes and qualifications up their sleeves regardless of their gender. They must have leadership qualities, academic prowess and knowledge, administrative skills and experience of working and managing in such institutions. No one ought to be considered unless they do have the skills universities need to be led. However, the push for having more women is necessary for the following reasons:
Female vice chancellors are likely to understand the challenges women go through in pursuit of higher education and can advocate for a better environment for them to do so.
Secondly, they are likely to institute fair policies that provide protection for those sexually harassed. While both male and female students are harassed, many of the stories that see the light of day are those of the females, showing an urgent need to have them protected. These female vice chancellors also provide good examples for the woman in academia to follow suit.
It is not an easy path to get there, especially for many women who are given roles by the society and religion, that good or bad, tend to make the path harder to follow. Seeing other women make it to vice chancellorship, however, will encourage others to pursue such interests because they have seen someone else do it.
We hope, therefore, that the ministry will do more than talking and seriously advocate for more females to take the lead.