UI VC Selection: How Vacancy Advertisement Gives Male Professors Edge Over Female Professors

UI VC Selection: How Vacancy Advertisement Gives Male Professors Edge Over Female Professors

From the developing countries to the developed ones, the need to ensure gender equality remains issues of national and global importance. Several reports have indicated that some countries are not likely to bridge their gender gap by 2030, the year most countries are expected to realise goals and targets related to gender imbalances in the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.

The issue of gender inequality cuts across all aspects of every society. In business, social setting and educational institutions, men are being favoured in terms of positions habitation and expressing views than womenfolk. In Nigeria, the issue is more complicated when one examines it from the cultural and religious perspectives. Some norms and values of the ethnic groups still prioritise male children more than female children. Some elements in religions are not helping the matter too. The Global Gender Gap Index has placed Nigeria on 146th position out of 152 countries ranked for gender gap bridging for 2020. Individual index scores show that Nigeria is placed on 128th position as a country that ensures political empowerment for women.

However, this piece is not aimed at revealing what and how Nigerian stakeholders have worked on reducing gender inequality and expected to close the gap in the future. The concern of the article is how University of Ibadan’s Registry Office constructed vacancy advertisement for the position of Vice Chancellorship. This piece is in continuation of our analysis of roads to the selection of new Vice Chancellor for the Nigeria’s oldest University as the current occupant’s tenure ends in November, 2020.

In May, 2020, Mrs Olubunmi O. Faluyi, the Registrar and Secretary to the University Council released vacancy advertisement message to the public, calling applicants for the Vice Chancellorship position of the University. The message is reproduced in this article and analysed further using a critical gendered lens with the intent of revealing academic leadership ideals that resonate with masculine and feminine polarity.

To bring out the needed insights for discourse, our analyst coded the message using existing principles and assumptions of critical gender equality theories. Efforts were made to expose wordings that reflect masculine and feminine leadership ideals. When we found occurrence of masculine leadership wordings more than feminine leadership wordings, our analyst concluded that the University seems not be ready to allow more female professors as contenders. This is premised on the fact that the content of the advertisement [how words are used] casts doubt on the University’s agenda on gender mainstreaming started some years ago.

Our expectation of seeing words that balance both masculine and feminine leadership ideals was not met. It emerged that the inclusion of masculine words more than feminine words made the position seem less appealing to female professors, thereby limiting the applicant pool for the position. Our analyst posits that meritocracies can only work when everyone irrespective of gender disparity has a fair opportunity to compete.

The University’s Vision

The Vision of the University is, “to be a world-class institution for academic excellence geared towards meeting societal needs”, therefore, it intends to be ranked among the best Universities world-wide, in keeping with the Mission statement:

  1. To expand the frontiers of knowledge through provision of excellent conditions for learning and research.
  2. To produce graduates who are worthy in character and sound judgment
  3. To contribute to the transformation of society through creativity and innovation
  4. To serve as dynamic custodian of society’s salutary values and thus sustain its integrity

The total student population currently stands at 41,743 and this comprises:

  1. 18,122 Undergraduates
  2. 15,024 Postgraduates
  3. 8,597 Open Distance Learners

There are 15 Halls of Residence which provide accommodation for about 30% of the population of students in the regular studies mode. The University has a total staff strength of 5,339 with 1,212 housing units for both senior and junior staff.

The University of Ibadan is, therefore, a truly complex organization. Its governance is based on the Committee System, all the Boards and Committees report to Council and/or Senate. In order to carry out its main functions of teaching, research and community service, the University has been providing to a large extent, basic services like electricity and water supply, security, health facilities and other municipal services to its staff and students.

Staff salaries and emoluments currently are in aggregate of about Thirteen Billion Naira per annum. Through its alumni and alumnae, the University of Ibadan has, in the past seven decades contributed significantly to the political, industrial, economic and cultural development of Nigeria.

The Candidate

The candidate for the post of Vice Chancellor is required to possess a good University education and should be a proven, successful manager of human and material resources. Specifically, the candidate shall be expected to:

  1. be a highly distinguished scholar of the rank of Professor, with a minimum of ten (10) years experience on that level and demonstrate ability to provide academic and administrative leadership for such a well-established institution;
  2. be a person of proven integrity;
  3. be not more than 65 years old as at the date of possible assumption of duty on 01 December, 2020;
  4. command the respect of the national and international academic communities through his/her track record;
  5. strengthen the bridges between staff, students and other members of the University community;
  6. be a person with a clear vision for the development of the University
  7. enjoy excellent physical and mental health;
  8. attract the much-needed funds into the University.

The Critical Insights

Despite being analytical in the construction of the message and confident about the kind of Vice Chancellor the University wants, the Registrar employed masculine words (63.63%) more than feminine words (36.36%). This connotes images of a strong and charismatic masculine leadership style. As stated earlier, this is against the University’s gender mainstreaming policy, which aims at addressing gender issues related to teaching, learning, research and service.

Beyond this, it is also not in line with the current Vice Chancellor’s priority [Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka’s the eighth priority is to promote gender mainstreaming by creating incentives to attract more female academics, including early career researchers]. Our checks show that male Professors have been in a Vice Chancellorship position over the years of establishing the University. According to the existing information, few female Professors have held the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor, especially in the areas of administration, academics and research.

Exhibit 1: Sentiments in the Vacancy Advertisement

Source: 2020 UI’s VC Vacancy Advertisement, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 2: Masculine Wordings versus Feminine Wordings

Source: 2020 UI’s VC Vacancy Advertisement, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 3: Proportion of Male Contenders to Female Contender

Source: Contenders, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

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7 thoughts on “UI VC Selection: How Vacancy Advertisement Gives Male Professors Edge Over Female Professors

  1. I do not agree with the grouping on what sounded masculine and feminine, of course it could depend on who’s reading and the person’s fundamental biases about things. There’s always a fine line between meritocracy and gender-based equality. Most times we play tricks with our minds, believing that we can efficiently balance both, without injuring either of the components.

    Humans by their very existence are already complex creatures, that a narrative has gained wide acceptance or following does not mean it’s true or correct.

    If we believe that the wordings ascribed as masculine are true, then we are implicitly admitting that female folks cannot perform optimally in those things; and vice versa. I cannot think of what is more biased than confidently concluding that things are this way or that way.

    The people goading us to favour one metric against the other on matters of gender have their own agendas, and none of them possess supreme or transcendental intelligence to know what is best for humanity.

    A female registrar put out an advert for a potential vacant position, and the wordings were more ‘masculine’ than ‘feminine’; what would have happened if the registrar were to be male?

    World of wonders!

    Reply
    1. You actually voiced out my thoughts. In as much as I agreed with some of the writer’s earlier ratings, I absolutely disagree with this. I think the writer could come up with better argument. I’m a female, but this is definitely not it.

      Reply
      1. The title and content of this article are captivating. It is interesting to see how the writer of this article analysed the advert using a gender lens. However, the analysis was gender bias, unfortunately from a ‘gender analyst’ though surprising. I hope to deal with this better in my next project.
        Back to the analysis; the masculine or feminine words/phrases categorization would have been correct three decades ago or outside an enlightened setting like the prestigious UI. But with the feminine liberation and gender mainstreaming efforts, these words/phrases apply to both gender and I suppose this is the intention of the Registrar. The analyst however reflected his/her masculine sentiment with the interpretation of these words/phrases. There are clear evidence of men with vision and women of integrity and vice versa. A stronger analysis is needed next time to justify the title of this article.

        Reply
  2. Thank you @Francis Oguaju. I read the article enthusiastically at first hoping to find some interesting exposition, but I was quite disappointed along the line.
    I may not have a background as a linguist specialized in gender theories (which all have their criticisms) but a huge majority of the applicants wouldn’t have been either. So I believe we can better view the requirements through the lens of qualified female and male applicants.
    Nonetheless in my opinion, classifying strong leadership, negotiating and fundraising skills as masculine is degrading to women. Is this not a reiteration of 19th century ideals of what it meant to be a woman, and part of the issues that fuel the gender parity in elected positions in Nigeria?

    Reply
  3. I suggest that the author take the observations made above in good faith and make some amendments. One of such is to commend the gender balance in the wordings of the advertisement. Secondly, the analysis shows there is evidence of the author’s ‘retention’ of some words in masculine domain which should not be. They should be set free from male-centred constructs. E.g. integrity is within both male and female scope. Despite these, I look forward to more analysis from the writer.

    Reply

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