A study into some of the reasons why there are few women holding high offices in the ministry of education
Onyango, Esther Akinyi O
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The study was carried out at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Nairobi. The study involved finding out the number of senior male and female officers holding high offices in the ministry with an aim of finding out if there was a gender balance. It has been found out that the number of senior male officers holding high offices in the ministry are more than the senior female officers. In order to understand the factors leading to having fewer women than men holding the high offices, a research study was done by using the questionnaire as the main instrument. The demographic data in the questionnaire provided information on the senior officers, their gender, qualification and posts held. This enabled the researcher to establish that there were more men than women. Other questions were used to explore the managerial skills and the competence level of the male and female senior officers holding high posts and it was established that there is no difference in the qualifications, managerial skills and competence of the male and female workers. The third part of the questionnaire had structured open-ended questions that were used to tap information from the respondents on the problems encountered by the senior female officers holding high posts, at the ministry. The study found out that, they felt undermined by their male colleagues working under them because they are women. Their fellow women bosses also undermine them. They felt that their bosses also do not trust their decision making abilities. The nature of some of the jobs that required them to be in the field for long, thus separating them from their families, this discourages women from seeking such jobs. The study also explored some of the factors that prevent female officers from ascending to the senior posts. It found out that many women started school but fewer reached higher levels of education because some dropped out of school due to cultural reasons, some got married and others just stopped at a level where they felt they needed to start families and thus left education at a level that did not allow them to ascend to the high posts. Other factors included the not so friendly atmosphere experienced by the senior female officers at places of work, community frowning upon women holding high offices, gender insensitivity at recruitment and selection and also the dual role played by women as both home managers and employees at the ministry. The study found out that these are some of the factors that discourage female workers from getting high posts. The study also used the same questions to explore how the female workers perceived the imbalance and upon analysis it was found out that they perceived it as being unfair. The study found out that both male and female workers felt that there is need of improving leadership quality at the ministry by ensuring a balanced gender representation, equal opportunities at recruitment, selection and promotion, regular induction courses and better remunerations. They also felt that leaders should be posted to areas of their choices and posts given according to qualifications and experience, regardless of sex. To be encouraged are; affirmative actions, automatic promotions of deputies, women to be viewed as professionals and annual appraisals to be done away with and all forms of encouragement put in place to encourage women to come up so as to achieve a balance in gender among senior officers holding leadership position at the ministry of education, there by improving the overall, administrative and production levels.