Women Leading

Women Leading Photo: Gemma Munday

Women Leading

Unlocking the potential of FEMALE EDUCATION leaders 

Women must have more leadership opportunities and roles to improve society for us all. Whilst this is not unique to education, academia can set the bar.

Universities and colleges are places where women can gain leadership skills and roles:​

  • Female role models in universities and colleges can inspire new generations of young people to be leaders.​

  • Mentoring and networks within universities and colleges and beyond can unlock the power of female leadership.​

  • Scholarships can develop students and educators into leaders.​

This counteracts unconscious gender biases: transforming society so that it works better for everyone.

There needs to be more evidence about the role of universities and colleges in equipping women with leadership opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. We are filling this evidence gap: supporting university and college leaders to champion female leadership within their institutions. 

What we have done so far

We worked with a consortium of partners, including the African Association of Universities (AAU) and the Ghanaian Government's National Council of Tertiary Education (NCTE), to lead a study on higher education staff and academics in Ghana. We found that only 8% of professors at public universities were women across the whole of the country.

This, coupled with the country’s need of 5 times the current number of professors to meet its booming student population, shows the need for more female leaders is urgent.

In Nigeria, the situation is similar, with only 17% of principle officers at universities being female. 

Across sub-Saharan Africa, 2.5% of vice-chancellors are women and 5% of CEOs are women. Women make up 43% of those who receive tertiary education but hold 28% of formal sector jobs (McKinsey Global Institute. 2019). Only 24% of academic staff in tertiary education across sub-Saharan Africa are female (UNESCO, 2019). 

We are researching this topic alongside female leaders from across Africa, including holding focus groups and interviews.

Our African Evidence Research Database profiles African-led research, including female academics. Out of 2510 researchers in our database, only 32% are female. Our work to raise the profile of academics in Africa has a focus on ensuring women can gain funding and exposure.

We have also created a database called the 'African Scholarships Hub' to support young people in sub-Saharan Africa to find scholarships and funding.

We are building a coalition of universities, colleges, and organisations with expertise in women's leadership. Together we will co-create solutions based on the evidence we find through our research. These solutions will address the barriers women face and inform education policy and delivery in universities, colleges and beyond. 

Improving Female Leadership in Education

Life as a Female Professor in Ghana

Professor Goski Alabi is a professor at Laweh Open University in Ghana. Professor Goski Alabi took part in our Demographics of Faculty study and also features in our Impact Report


Aishwarya Tiku

Read Aishwarya Tiku's blog

Find out about the work Aishwarya is leading in Ethiopia to share knowledge, improve education, and train the next generation of leaders to make a difference in their communities.


Female Leaders Ghana

Read the blog

"As we work assiduously to promote female leadership in various sectors including education, health, and in government, let us keep in mind that development begins, and ends with women." - read this blog by our Communication's Assistant, Ekow


Dubai Cares
Dubai Cares

Since its inception, Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has been working towards providing children and young people in developing countries with access to quality education. As a result, the UAE-based global philanthropic organization has successfully launched education programs reaching over 18 million beneficiaries in 57 developing countries.

Dubai Cares support programs in early childhood development, access to quality education, technical and vocational education and training for youth as well as a particular focus on education in emergencies.

“We are excited to announce our expansion into tertiary education, in partnership with ESSA. We believe this will help connect millions of students and graduates to employment opportunities and will be central to developing successful and sustainable economies and societies."

Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares