MIASA Holds 6th Roundtable Discussion on Women's Leadership

The Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA), University of Ghana, has organised a roundtable discussion on "Positioning and Preparing Oneself for Leadership in Academia” as part of an annual workshop on Female Academic Careers in Africa.

The discussion sought to educate, inspire and prepare more female academics for leadership roles. It was held in collaboration with the German Historical Institute Paris (GHIP) and the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA).

Prof. Daniel Frimpong Ofori, Provost of the College of Humanities, delivered the welcome address and expressed his excitement about the resource persons for the roundtable discussion. He reiterated his comment at a similar event last year, on women's readiness to accept leadership positions and serve. He stated that most women, unfortunately, do not avail themselves for positions when the need arises and often give reasons why they are unable to assume leadership positions.

Prof. Daniel Frimpong Ofori, Provost of the College of Humanities

Prof. Ofori restated his point by indicating that, “indeed the barriers themselves cannot break, unless we force the barriers to break. Often times the efforts and the nature of the force applied is not much”. He implored participants not to only build capacity but also to put the skills and knowledge they are constantly gaining to use. He further expressed the hope that the lessons learned from the discussions and coaching sessions will inspire more female academics in Africa to be prepared to take on and excel in leadership roles.

Dr. Grace Diabah, Ghanaian Director of MIASA, provided a brief overview of MIASA's structure and objectives. She also explained that this year's theme, "Positioning and Preparing Oneself for Leadership in Africa," was narrowed down from the previous year's theme, which broadly examined perspectives on women's leadership in academia from the humanities and social sciences.

She was convinced that the roundtable would provide a forum for women in academia to share ideas and experiences, which will encourage more African women in academia to take on leadership roles and excel.

Dr. Susan Baller, German Director of MIASA, stated that the annual workshop, now in its sixth year, has been able to host female academic participants from various African countries. She also mentioned that the workshop is designed as a coaching seminar, so that small groups of individuals are formed to provide time and space for women in academia in African countries to discuss and share interests and opportunities.

She added that participants are accompanied by professional coaches who use different models to explore professional relationships in academia and address issues on university hierarchies and also other work-related issues. She expressed her desire for MIASA to be able to reach a larger audience through the roundtable discussion platform.

Dr. Deborah Atobrah, Director of CEGENSA, noted in her remarks that the event was significant because there are very few women in academia who are poised for leadership.

Dr. Deborah Atobrah, Director of CEGENSA,

“The fact that there are fewer women in academia than men averaging about 40% means that there is a greater demand for female leaders than the supply is available,” she said. She also encouraged attendees to engage as much as they could from the coaching sessions and roundtable discussions, in order to be prepared to take on the mantle of leadership in the near future.

The speakers for the round table were Professor Awo Mana Asiedu (Ag. Dean, School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana), Dr. Doris Akyere Boateng (Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work, University of Ghana) and Dr. Jenny Mbaye (Associate Dean, Employability, Engagement and Enterprise for the School of Communication & Creativity, City University of London).

During the discussion, the speakers shared their experiences working in academia as well as the barriers that prevent women from assuming leadership positions. They also discussed alternative solutions for increasing the adequate supply of female personalities in academia, creating more opportunities for females to take on leadership roles in academia.

A question and answer session followed the discussion.

A participant asking a question

Also present at the event were Prof. Charlotte Wrigley-Asante; Head, Department of Geography and Resource Development and former Director (MIASA) as well as some students.