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Women academics' careers in Kenya

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Pamela Raburu
Publication date2010
Number of pages201
Awarding Institution
Award date1/07/2010
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis examined the experiences of women academics in relation to their
family contribution, educational experiences and, factors that motivated them
towards academia, while highlighting strategies that they have employed to reach
their present professional and academic ranks. In addition, any challenges
experienced by the women academics were explored.

The study is a contribution to knowledge and the extant literature on women
academics’ career experiences which has been under-researched, especially in
Kenya. It claims to have made a contribution to a wider understanding of women
academics’ experiences, exposing a significant impact of culture, family, work
tensions, gender role expectations, male-dominated university cultures, and a
lack of role models and mentors, which contribute to the slow progress of women
academics’ careers in Kenyan universities.

Using a qualitative research approach, the researcher used a face- to- face in-
depth interviewing technique with sixteen women academics from three
universities in Kenya while drawing from a feminist perspective. My aim was to
create a dialogue on the lived experiences while at the same time using theory to
inform and reflect on those experiences. With the use of thematic analysis, the
data generated five themes; family socialisation, educational attributes,
motivational factors, challenges and strategies.

The findings of this research demonstrated that very few women have
progressed into senior academic and professional ranks and that, the pace is
slow. They continue to be hampered by socio-cultural attitudes towards women
and their roles in Kenyan society.

This is not the full story as some of the women interviewed reported that they had
to put off marriage for career and likewise, others put on hold or postponed
career for family responsibilities.

To maintain their positions or climb the professional ladder, they therefore, had to
employ a range of strategies such as; working hard, focusing on research and
publication for promotion purposes.

The wider implications of these findings are discussed.