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Female Faculty and Leadership – Affirmative Action and Gender Equality in Ethiopia

An assessment of the position of female faculty and affirmative action policies in Ethiopian universities was carried out for the Education Strategy Centre in Addis Ababa. Building on that assessment, a leadership programme specifically aimed at female faculty was designed and piloted.

Assessing female faculty and affirmative action

The first component of this project was the assessment of the position of female faculty and affirmative action policies in Ethiopian universities. This assessment aimed to gain an better understanding of gender bias in teaching, research and management position in Ethiopian universities, and aimed to identify interventions and strategies to enhance the participation of women leaders in universities. The assessment was focused on 13 recently established universities in Ethiopia.

Design a gender assessment framework

A tailor-made gender assessment framework on female faculty and leadership was designed to coordinate and align data collection in the 13 universities. This framework was designed in close collaboration with the gender directors in those universities, and the team of Ethiopian and Dutch consultants. A consistent data collection in each university provided a sound basis for a comprehensive analysis across the universities. A data validation workshop was key to consolidating the findings and to ensure cross-case analysis.

For each university, an assessment report was prepared. The final report presents the overall analysis by bringing the data and findings from the 13 NPU reports together. It presented figures on gender balance in staff composition and decision-making positions and bodies, analyzed gender and affirmative action policies, guidelines, instruments and infrastructure and documented and analyzed actual experiences, challenges and opportunities for both female faculty and university management. The key findings are also presented in a Policy Brief.

Designing a leadership development programme

The second component of the project concerned the design of a leadership development programme for women academics in those universities. The leadership programme aims to strengthen participants’ understanding of the organizational contexts in which they work and how career development happens, to develop their leadership skills and self-confidence, and to strengthen their academic competences and profile.

The design of this programme builds on a review of a large number of women leadership programme, mostly in universities and some in private sector settings, in different parts of the world. The first draft of the programme has been piloted during a 5-day workshop with 39 female faculty from thirteen Ethiopian universities in Addis Ababa, in April 2015.


Affirmative action is good, but also has its challenges for us. It can have a psychological effect that you are not here because of your competences, but because of affirmative action. It is equally or even more important to create opportunities for women, and to compensate for the barriers they face. I want to explore my potential and compete with the guys. So maybe not only affirmative action, but support to become competitive. It is not enough to get women to the gate, but we have to show her the way.’


Services delivered

  • Monitoring, Evaluation & Impact Assessment

  • Policy & Programme Design

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