Understanding Gender and Higher Education in African Universities

Understanding Gender and Higher Education in African Universities


17 Aug 2023    
12:00pm - 1:00pm

Event Type


17 August, 12:00 to 13:00 (UK Time)

Guest Speaker: Dr Meseret Hailu, Arizona State University

Title: Understanding Gender and Higher Education in African Universities: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Key Policy Mandates

Dr Hailu will be sharing her comparative work which using critical discourse analysis to understand how gender is conceptualised and discussed in universities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.

The Comparative Education and International Development (CEID) Research Group is proud to welcome Dr Meseret Hailu from Arizona State University to the Moray House School of Education and Sport for this guest talk. Her related article for this presentation can be downloaded here.

This is a hybrid event. Please choose in person on online attendance upon registration. Note that more detailed information (including the link for online guests) will be shared via an Eventbrite email the evening prior to the event.

Abstract: In this comparative project, Dr Hailu presents an analysis of three policy documents that have guided gender-based higher education initiatives in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Two research questions guided this work: (1) How do key policy documents conceptualise gender equity? and (2) How is gender equity discussed in relation to economic priorities and sociopolitical realities in each country?

To address these questions, a critical discourse analysis was conducted for the following documents: Kenya’s Education and Training Gender Policy in Kenya, Rwanda’s Education Sector Strategic Plan 2018/19–-–022/23, and Uganda’s Gender in Education Policy. Corroborating the work of other scholars, this analysis revealed: (1) an increased commitment to gender equality, (2) persistent underrepresentation of women in higher education despite increased participation of women over time, and (3) markedly low gender parity in STEM disciplines. These findings are significant because they confirm that there is a disconnect between stated policy goals and actual student outcomes, which limits institutional success and economic development.

Additionally, this analysis highlights differences in the strength in commitment to gender equity in policy mandates in these three countries. This is a key issue which warrants further research attention.