'Outsiders within' : women's participation in university management in Kenya
The thesis utilises some ethnographic methods and draws upon a feminist critical policy analysis to explore the participation of women managers in Kenyan universities. In order to explore these women's participation their career history in university teaching, how they got into management, the challenges they have faced and their coping strategies are examined. Their perceptions on gender roles and the impact of these perceptions on their performance as managers are also explored. The data were obtained through unstructured multiple interviews, marginal participant observation and document analysis from eight women and eight men occupying management positions at level of academic heads of department and above in one public and one private university in Kenya. Men managers were interviewed so as to shed more light on the influence of gender on the women managers' experiences. The purpose of interviewing the eight men and eight women was not to generalise their experiences to others but to be able to study the individual women managers in their natural settings in an attempt to make sense of, interpret and describe their experiences. The analysis of the data shows that the women's participation in university management is characterised by contradictions resulting mainly from their multiple roles as academics, managers, mothers, wives institutional discrimination and the socio-cultural attitudes towards women in leadership in the Kenyan society. These women took a longer route to management as compared to men especially in the public university and had to work extra hard to remain in management. The coping strategies adopted by the women are not geared towards changing the status quo. I argue that for women's participation in university management in Kenya to be enhanced, there is need for change of attitude towards women and gender roles in the wider Kenyan society.