Identifying and responding to barriers impacting women educators: reflections by feminist educators on institutional constraints

  • J. Perumal


A national audit conducted by the Centre for Science Development in 1997 aimed to ascertain the research and teaching status of women in academia. Among the recommendations emerging from the audit was the need to review institutional policies, and focus on networking and support. Using the audit as a point of departure, the article draws on narrative research that was conducted with five tertiary educators who teach English from a feminist perspective at various universities in Southern Africa. Through narrative research comprising autobiographical essays, and post lesson interviews the study investigated the specific contribution of feminist pedagogy to the task of reconceptualising English language teaching in multilingual classrooms. In reflecting on the various factors that continue to shape their feminist and socio-linguistic identity construction, the participants almost organically reflected on institutional factors that enabled or disabled their participation in academic life. Drawing on these reflections, this article explores the notion of academic citizenship as it relates to the status and practice of these five educators who teach at various institutions of higher education in Southern Africa. The article is divided into two parts. a)   Part 1 identifies the barriers impacting the participants. It draws on the British sociologist T H Marshall's tripartite conceptualization of citizenship, viz. civic citizenship, political citizenship and social citizenship as a framework that explores the constituent factors comprising an individual's citizenship status and membership in society. Based on macro notions of citizenship, the article adapts these to the micro context of academia to explore the status of women's academic citizenship. b)   Part 2 explores the ways the participants in the study are responding to the barriers impacting them by attempting to negotiate the tightrope of rights and justice and the morality of ethics and care.

(South African Journal of Higher Education: 2003 17 (1): 74-82)

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1011-3487