The third week of October marked a special occasion for the team of the GATE Project: for the first time since Covid-19, our international team came together for an in-person research symposium. After years of hard work, five of our researchers presented the research results of the GATE Project in Trinity College Dublin on Wednesday, October 19. Dr Susan Murphy and her colleagues in Ireland were delighted to welcome Dr Perpetua Urio and Dr Ikupa Moses to Dublin for participation in the seminar.
Despite the heavy rain and thunderstorm, about fifty people came to TCD to attend the presentations. The audience consisted of academics from a number of Irish universities, students, alumni, policymakers and development practitioners. The session was kicked off by DUCE Diversity Coordinator Dr Ikupa Moses, who gave an illuminating presentation on her systematic review of African masculinities and femininities, which, to our knowledge, is the first to have ever been conducted. Dr Moses was applauded for her efforts to map African traditional knowledge of gender identities and her determination to include the voices of African scholars.
Final-year PhD student Anna Mwakitalu introduced the audience to her research on the under-representation of women in leadership in Tanzanian Higher Education. 70 percent of the academic staff in Tanzanian Higher Learning Institutions are men, yet the majority of studies focus on gender representation in lower levels of education. Ms Mwakitalu successfully addressed this research gap by investigating the notable absence of women in tertiary education senior positions.
Subsequently, Principal Investigator Dr Susan Murphy gave an insightful overview of the influence of institutional habitus on gender mainstreaming in Tanzanian Higher Education. Using four years of data, she illustrated the impact of gender mainstreaming tools introduced by the GATE Project on attitudes towards gender inequalities among DUCE academic staff. Dr Murphy’s research resulted in a lively discussion on awareness of privilege and marginalisation in both Tanzanian and Irish Institutions of Higher Education.
Zooming in from Canada, former research assistant and alumna of TCD’s Master’s in Development Practice, Samar Mudawi, presented the findings of her paper on gender stereotyping in higher education. Ms Mudawi’s case study of a teacher-training college in Tanzania showed that rigid gender stereotypes are still prevalent in Tanzania. Traditional understandings of femininity and masculinity have a direct effect on gender roles, with women being associated with expressive roles, and men with positions of leadership in both the public and private realm.
The final speaker of the seminar was Principal Investigator Dr Perpetua Urio. Dr Urio drew our attention to the effects of gender pedagogy sensitive training in DUCE and illustrated how biased language can inhibit learning processes among all genders. The trainings offered by Dr Urio and her team challenged these prejudices and helped transform attitudes and behaviour of academic staff that chose to participate in the training.
The team of the GATE Project look back on a very successful seminar. We would like to thank everyone who attended for coming. We hope to see you again in the future!