The Acting Director of the School of Performing Arts of the University of Ghana, Professor. Awo Mana Asiedu, has urged career-women to build their self-confidence to prepare them to take up leadership roles at their various workplaces.
She expressed the concern that many women are unable to take up leadership roles due to lack of self-confidence.
She was of the view that without self-confidence, it will be difficult for women to make their voices heard, noting that “making your voice heard is very important.”
Prof. Asiedu made the remarks when the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) in collaboration with the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA) of the University of Ghana, and German Historical Institute Paris (GHIP), organised a public roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities for women in academia in African context.
The three-day event, which started on February 15, 2023, was on the theme: “Female academic careers in Africa: positioning and preparing oneself for leadership in academia.”
The roundtable is part of an annual MIASA workshop on female academic careers in Africa which is organised with GHIP and the CEGENSA at the University of Ghana.
A total of 20 early and mid-career female academics from the social sciences and humanities, who are based at universities or research institutes across the various African countries, including Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa took part in the workshop.
Participants were taken through some practical coaching sessions on areas such as how to build up efficient teams; how to deal with university hierarchies; how to address conflicts at the workplace, and how to proceed an academic career with multiple time constraints.
Prof. Asiedu also expressed concern that oftentimes, when there was a leadership positions on workplaces particularly in the academic environment, many women academics shy away from such opportunities.
That, she said, it was about time women academics made their presence and impact felt in the academic community, stressing that although it would not be easy for women academics to take up leadership roles, they ought not to be intimidated by anyone.
Sharing her views as a panel member, Dr. Doris Akyere Boateng of the University of Ghana, advised women academics and aspiring ones to be more responsible with their time management.
For her, one does not need to be a superwoman to achieve one’s career goals, noting that if women academics are able to strike a balance between family duties and academic works, they would be able to achieve their goals.
Dr Jenny Mbaye of the University of London also encouraged women to stay focus on their desire to achieve excellence in whatever they do without giving any opportunity to setbacks and distractions.
She said many female academics are oftentimes distracted by many things and it was only through determination and decisiveness that female academics will be able to overcome their challenges.
Purpose of MIASA
The Director of MIASA, Dr Susann Baller, in her opening remarks said MIASA as an Institute under the College of Humanities at the University of Ghana and is jointly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the University of Ghana.
She said MIASA serves as a hub for exchange, networking, and collaboration among leading researchers from Germany, Ghana, and other scholars from around the globe.
She explained that the workshop was intended to equip the participants with the necessary skills to address their daily academic work challenges and, prepare them for future managerial roles, particularly in the academia.
Dr Baller expressed the optimism that the workshop would also assist the participants to define their own working and leadership style, but also to consider how to adapt oneself to different contexts and challenges.
That, she noted, the overarching purpose of the workshop was to encourage early-and mid-career female academics in Ghana and other African countries to further build up their careers, to develop strategies for keeping a work-life-balance that allows for prospering in one’s research and academic work, and to become ready for taking up leadership positions and/or seizing other professional opportunities.
The Director of CEGENSA, Dr Deborah Atobrah, said it was important to bridge the leadership gap in terms of gender equality.
For her, the establishment of the CENGENSA had contributed to creating more awareness on gender issues within the university community.
She expressed the hope that MIASA and CEGENSA would continue to collaborate to provide critical information on career growth and mentorship opportunities for women in academia.
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