Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women in Management: Challenges and Gaps in Public Institutions in Ethiopia

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women in Management: Challenges and Gaps in Public Institutions in Ethiopia

Article excerpt

Introduction and Background to the Study

Ethiopia, with a total area of 1,103,609 square meters, is located in the horn of Africa; its plateau covers 2/3 of the country. According to the recent census report of CSA (2007), the total population of the country--the second most populated in Africa--is about 73,750,932 million, of which 37,217,130 are male and 36,533,802 are women. The total population in the next census survey of 2017 is projected to be 94,351,001, of which 47,364,009 will be men and 46,986,992 will be women (CSA 2013). Ethiopia has nine regional administrations and two city regions. There are 23 ministerial offices including the director general in the Country.

Many surveys reveal that women's participation in the workplace is lower than that of men. For example, the recent CSA (2013) report reveals that out of the total 42,403,879-employed population, only 19,517,232 are women. When we consider the total number of managers in the country by occupation (231,211), only 61,308 (26.5%) are women and of the total reported (563, 231) only 181,668 (32.3%) are women. In terms of technicians and associate professionals, out of (804,750), only 264, 416 (32.3%) are women. Surprisingly, the number of women employees outweighs the number of male employees in lower levels of occupations. Out of the total clerical and support workers in the country (221,028), 143,331 (65%) are women employees. Out of the total service and sales workers (3,670,391), 2,394,614 (65%) of them are women workers.

This study, therefore, provides insights into the reasons for the lower representation of women in higher managerial positions in Ethiopian Public Institutions. By exploring the status of women managers, the study reveals the challenges that women face in organizational settings and also uncovers the reasons for the disparity in terms of representation in higher managerial levels in public institutions in Ethiopia.

The Problem and Questions

Political and legal changes have created opportunities to increase the representation of women professionals in many sectors across the country. Nevertheless, the pace of change in relation to women professional has often been slow and progress has generally been uneven in all public and private institutions in Ethiopia. The relative failure of women to move into the ranks of managerial positions, in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia, has not been documented at all and no systematic study has been done thus far. Therefore, there is a dire need to investigate the problem, and this study seeks to answer the following basic questions: What are the obstacles that impede women's progress in managerial positions? What is the perception of woman managers as they proceed in their career paths?

Research Methodology

The study employed a survey methodology, considering quantitative data, as the central data source, to investigate the status of executive women in management of public institutions. Samples were selected based on the availability of women executives in managerial positions in governmental public intuitions. Accordingly, 55 structured questionnaires targeting executives were distributed. 49 (89%) were completed and returned.

Results and Discussion

Demographic Characteristics of the Respondents-Executive Women

The respondents were drawn from the Head Office of Public Ministries in Ethiopia. All were women holding executive positions in public ministerial offices. Accordingly, 49 women executives were identified. The educational status of the respondents and their spouse are shown in Table 1 below.

As shown in Table 1, almost all of the women executives have obtained either a Bachelor's or Master's degree. The majority (55%) holds a Bachelor's degree. On the other hand, the educational levels of their spouses range from high school to the doctoral level. Significant numbers, i.e. 41%, of their spouses are Bachelor's degree holders. …

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