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:
- To expand the frontiers of knowledge through provision of excellent conditions for learning and research.
- To produce graduates who are worthy in character and sound judgment
- To contribute to the transformation of society through creativity and innovation
- 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:
- 18,122 Undergraduates
- 15,024 Postgraduates
- 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 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:
- 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;
- be a person of proven integrity;
- be not more than 65 years old as at the date of possible assumption of duty on 01 December, 2020;
- command the respect of the national and international academic communities through his/her track record;
- strengthen the bridges between staff, students and other members of the University community;
- be a person with a clear vision for the development of the University
- enjoy excellent physical and mental health;
- 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
Exhibit 2: Masculine Wordings versus Feminine Wordings
Exhibit 3: Proportion of Male Contenders to Female Contender