Transformation in higher education : receptions of female academics at a distance education institution of higher education

Ragadu, Suzette C. ; Minnaar, Suzette, C. (2008-03)

Thesis (MComm (Industrial Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Females in academia remain concentrated in lower level positions, with limited and often no decision-making power. However, this is not only a South African phenomenon but it is also evident in the position of female academics in the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. Within the South African context, higher education institutions are in a process of transformation and change in order to integrate with social transformation and change. Therefore, the Department of Education mandated certain higher education institutions to transform and merge, with implications for their human resource management. Universities are regarded as complex organisations and this complicates the management and leadership of such institutions. Moreover, South Africa has passed legislation (e.g. the Higher Education Act) that impacts its human resource management and the manner in which higher education institutions are transformed and managed. Higher education institutions employ the principles of corporate management and therefore the distinction between management and leadership is highlighted. Communication is discussed as a tool thereof and the differences of males and females in this regard are emphasised. The status of female academics in South Africa is discussed and the perceptions of female academics with regard to the dimensions used in the empirical inquiry are highlighted. The empirical inquiry gauged how females occupying academic positions at a South African distance education university perceived the management process of institutional transformation. The perceptions of female academics with regard to five dimensions: management and leadership; communication; diversity and employment equity; and transformation and change were gauged and compared to the perceptions of male academics and that of female professional/administrative personnel. It was found that female and male academics were relatively positive with only one significant difference: their perceptions of communication at the institution. There were also significant differences in the perceptions of white and of black female academics. Furthermore, when female academics were compared to female professional/administrative personnel, there were significant differences: female academics held generally more positive perceptions than those of female professional/administrative personnel. In addition, there was evidence of an ageing workforce.

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