A study on gender mainstreaming: the case of a rural university in Limpopo Province, South Africa
Gender mainstreaming has been adopted as a strategy for promoting gender equality in institutions of higher learning worldwide, not least in Africa. This study investigated Gender Mainstreaming at the University of Venda, (UNIVEN) in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The study was based on Feminist epistemologies of doing research. In particular,a feminist standpoint theoretical approach was embarked upon to understand the position of female staff members vis-à-vis gender mainstreaming at this institution of higher learning. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to analyse the data. The study involved a population of 60 participants and a sample of 25 male and female workers selected using the purposive sampling technique. Data were presented in pie charts, tables, themes and in textual forms. Data were analysed through descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. But for the sake of this paper, thematic data was presented as it closely represents the views of those who participated in the study. The major findings and conclusions of the study are that the University of Venda faces enormous challenges in mainstreaming gender in its functions. There are perceptions that most strategic higher positions in the institution are dominated by men while women are marginalized. Although the University has policies on gender, staff members do not know about them while management does not implement these policies. UNIVEN makes use of the Employment Equity Act of 1998, but it is not clear whether line managers are aware of its implementation. However, some respondents said that there were no gender challenges at the institution as staff members’ promotion is based on merit through performance evaluation and progression. The study recommended that there should be more gender awareness activities such as workshops, conferences, and symposia for workers and staff members in order to sensitize them about gender issues.
Keywords: Representation, Gender Mainstreaming, Institutions of Higher Learning, Gender Equality, Management