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GHANA STUDIES / Volume 14 ISSN 1536-5514 / E-ISSN 2333-7168© 2012 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 191 NEO-LIBERAL ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING OF PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN GHANA: EFFECTS AND CHALLENGES FOR ACADEMIC WOMEN SCIENTISTS JOSEPHINE BEOKU-BETTS Although African governments have historically provided more than 90 percent of the total operating budgets for higher education, current financial challenges and increasing pressure from international banks and donor organizations to move towards neo-liberal economic policies have led many governments to withdraw much of this support. This has led to a significant decline in educational budgets, student enrollment, quality of science training, and shortage of qualified academic personnel in public universities. For example until 2009, student faculty ratio at the University of Ghana was very high and a significant number of faculty positions were vacant (Personal communication with Akosua Adomako Ampofo 2011). African universities have responded to these challenges by restructuring higher education as a commodity designed for profit making and development of a market niche. There is now an increasing urgency among universities to compete with counterparts and to establish partnerships with industry and business. Within universities, this competition has led to hierarchies among departments and faculty. Economic benchmarks are applied to assess teaching, research productivity, and curricular offerings . There are also increased budgetary controls, increased demands for accountability, and a less competitive salary structure (Stromquist et al. 2007). 192 Ghana Studies • volume 14 • 2012 As universities become more entrepreneurial, new possibilities and challenges face the professoriate. These include “an intensification of work practices, loss of autonomy, closer monitoring and appraisal, less participation in decision making, and a lack of personal development through work” (Currie 1998: 15). Patterns of stratification also emerge among the professoriate , whereby those with funded research are rewarded “more than those whose research attracts fewer funds or whose functions gravitate to teaching” (Stromquist et al. 2007). One area of tension in higher educational restructuring is its impact on the work experiences of women academics. Sandra Acker and Carmen Armenti (2004) state that discourses on the impact of globalization on higher education and the academic profession are largely de-gendered. Problems affecting the academic profession are often viewed as a consequence of trends in globalization that transcend social inequalities such as gender and race, or are overlooked and neglected, in the case of feminist scholarship addressing women’s experiences in the academy. Jill Blakemore (2000: 334) argues that while the language associated with globalization and education reform may appear to be gender neutral, policies associated with this process have radically altered gender relations by “changing the very nature of the state and its relation to the individual, household, and community.” A work environment that emphasizes performance and competition tends to benefit men more than women who are often found in the more vulnerable disciplines and academic ranks. Academic women, particularly those in the early stages of their careers, are under pressure to work twice as hard to legitimate their positions and authority, and this places them at a disadvantage to their male counterparts. Women are also responsible for care giving in the home and workplace when the state withdraws public Beoku-Betts • Economic Restructuring of Public Universities in Ghana 193 services. Women academics who tend to be concentrated in the lower academic ranks teach more, spend more time mentoring students, and have fewer research funding opportunities. This article examines how neo-liberal economic reforms in higher education in Ghana are affecting women faculty in the social and organizational environments of scientific disciplines. Drawing on comparative feminist scholarship on women and higher education, I argue that the work of women faculty has substantially increased under the impact of neo-­ liberal economic restructuring policies, the gendered work environments of scientific disciplines, and the patriarchal institutional cultures of higher educational institutions. Sylvia Tamale and Joseph Oloka-Onyango (2000) note that “the academic environment is governed by patriarchal values and beliefs and that female lecturers and students are generally considered less knowledgeable than their male colleagues, but also have to work twice as much to legitimate their positions and authority” (cited in Manuh 2002: 45). Women are also subject to sexual harassment and exclusion from “old...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2333-7168
Print ISSN
1536-5514
Pages
pp. 191-221
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-05
Open Access
No
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