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Women and leadership in academia

Options:     Print Version - Women and leadership in academia , part 6 Print view


Leaders may be born not made, but all benefit from some prior training before they are put into a managerial role, particularly in technical areas such as financial management. On the other hand, experience itself can be the best teacher, as the female heads of department interviewed by Zulu (2007) found, although the sheer complexity of the job gave the women problems managing time and stress.

However, research productivity is still the key to the academic ivory tower. Women in teaching institutions are in particular need of training in research skills – how to submit papers, apply for grants, establish a research agenda, use methodologies, etc. (Mabokela, 2001).

A major contributor to success in an academic career can be association with a senior colleague who acts as a mentor. Okpara et al. (2005) propose that senior women should be encouraged to support other women. Mabokela and Mawila (2004) describe how their South African women felt particularly vulnerable when they had to present papers at a conference; mentoring here would have been particularly useful but was not forthcoming, perhaps because those involved themselves lacked the necessary experience and were unwilling to admit it.