Women, Power, and the Academy: From Rhetoric to Reality

Women, Power, and the Academy: From Rhetoric to Reality

Women, Power, and the Academy: From Rhetoric to Reality

Women, Power, and the Academy: From Rhetoric to Reality


Many nations affirm the principle of gender equality. As women continue to advance in most walks of life, the impression that equality has been reached and that gender issues no longer pose real problems has naturally gained ground. Yet, many cultural, economic, and social barriers remain. Although as many women as men possess the skills necessary to shape social and economic development, women are still prevented from fully participating in decision- making processes. The papers collected in this volume focus on universities as one of the key institutions provide women with the education and leadership skills necessary for their advancement. Equally important is the role universities play in the shaping of a society's cultural fabric and, consequently, of attitudes towards women and their place in society. Both aspects are examined in this volume on the basis of a number of case studies carried out in western and non-western societies.


This book was inspired by the outcomes of the thematic debate on Women and Higher Education: Issues and Perspectives, which took place at the World Conference on Higher Education, Paris, 1998. This debate was sponsored by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

The conference aimed to set the major orientations for the renovation of higher education in the twenty-first century. For this, a new vision and approach to all areas of this sector are needed. The debate presented a critical appraisal of women’s status quo with regard to their access to higher education, their presence in the academy and in institutional management, and their role in the development of their local and national societies.

The views presented by the international panelists and participants resulted in unanimous agreement on the need for additional change and action to promote the advancement of women in higher education and in the development process, to ensure their enhanced presence in decisionmaking structures and to remove any cultural barriers impeding their progress.

Although these objectives may be simply stated, in reality they are complex to attain. This book is a collection of essays on aspects of this complexity. As such, it constitutes an original contribution to the ongoing quest for full gender equality in society.

We would like to thank the authors for sharing their valuable reflections and the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education for its generous support.

Linda Souter

President, International Federation of University Women

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