Conference focuses on women leaders in education

01 April 2008 | Story by Chris McEvoy

Mamphela Ramphele
CAP: Enabling: Former UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Mamphela Ramphele delivered an opening address at the conference on women leaders in higher education held at UCT.

Former UCT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, delivered an opening address at the two-day conference on women in leadership in higher education, held at the university from 28 to 29 March.

The conference, titled Institutional Cultures and Higher Education Leadership: Where are the Women?, drew over 100 delegates from all of South Africa's higher education institutions, as well as from a number of other African countries, such as Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

A central aim of the conference was to examine and discuss the cultural, practical and policy issues critical to increasing the number of women in leadership positions, and to envision potential solutions to the challenges.

Speaking on diversity in leadership, Ramphele argued that the oppressed must "redefine themselves". "We need to shift to an enabling culture," she said.

Naledi Pandor

Professor Lydia Brito, assistant professor at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, argued for "building the bridges of comprehension" in order to "reinvent leadership" in her address.

"Women bring a lot of skills to leadership," she said, quipping that women were "better at multitasking".

Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Kathy Driver, presented statistics showing the poor representation of females in upper leadership positions in higher education, and stressed the need to encourage women into leadership positions.

The conference was closed with an address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor (pictured above left).

A conference Declaration was signed afterwards, addressed to government, higher education institutions and research organisations responsible for ensuring equity in higher education.

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