Women in South African Higher Education
The CHE's commitment to gender equity
The Council on Higher Education is committed to promoting and monitoring the equal participation of women in higher education.
On 28 March 2008, HERS-SA
held a conference titled "Institutional cultures and higher education leadership: Where are the women?" in Cape Town. This conference resulted in a declaration
calling for action to improve gender equity in academic, administrative and executive leadership in higher education at all levels. The declaration was addressed to government, higher education institutions, educational and research establishments, and organizations and individuals who are responsible for ensuring equity in higher education.
The Council endorsed this declaration at the Council meeting of the 6th
Women employed in higher education
Until 2005, public higher education employed more men than women. This changed in 2006 when women outnumbered men for the first time. By 2007 women constituted 51% of the total staff at public higher education institutions. At universities and comprehensive universities 52% of staff were women, while at Universities of Technology, 46% of staff were women.
But within job categories, the gender equity is less evident. Men hold the majority of management, academic, technical, trade and service posts, while women are in the majority in the specialized support professional and non-professional administration posts.
Staff (headcount) at public institutions by gender and level of employment, 2007 (Source: HEMIS)
Women continue to be under-represented in senior management positions, (defined as management of the institution or one of its major divisions). Women are best represented in the universities where they make up 40% of the senior management and least well represented in the Universities of Technology where they make up 24%. At the Comprehensive Universities, 31% of senior management are women.
Only four of the 23 public institutions have women vice-chancellors. They are the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Prof. Vuyisa Mazwi-Tanga), the Vaal University of Technology (Prof. Moutlana), the University of Pretoria (Prof. de la Rey) and the University of Zululand (Prof. Gumbi).
But the situation is improving. The proportion of women in senior management increased from 18% in 2004 to 36% in 2007.
Growing numbers of women in senior management, 2004 - 2007 (Source: HEMIS)
In 2007, women made up 43% of the total permanent academic staff in public higher education institutions. Comprehensive universities employ more women (45%) and Universities of Technology fewer (42%) in academic positions. The greatest inequity is at the levels of professor and associate professor as shown below.
Academic staff (headcount) by gender and level of appointment, 2007 (Source: HEMIS)
Women in research
Most of the research done in South Africa, is done by men. The proportion of all papers produced by traditional universities that are authored by women varies between 14% and 37%. For comprehensive universities, it ranges between 24% and 47% and for universities of technology, between 26% and 41%. (From analyses undertaken between 2005 and 2009.)
In 2006, 25% of the NRF-rated researchers were women, up from 18% in 2002. The number and proportion of women among the NRF-rated researchers has been increasing steadily.
The gender of NRF-rated researchers, 2002 - 2006 (Source: NRF)
There are slightly more women than men enrolled in postgraduate programmes and women are more successful than men in completing their postgraduate studies. But only 42% of doctoral graduates in 2007 were women and in all fields other than education, there are more men than women enrolled for doctoral degrees.
In 2007 the proportion of women enrolled in doctoral studies was 35% in business, commerce and management, 53% in education, 43% in human and social sciences and 40% in science, engineering and technology.
Enrolments (headcount) in doctoral study by gender, 2007 (Source: HEMIS)