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    Where women predominate in universities but few lead

    Any Kazakhstani academic will reveal that there is no gender issue in higher education in Kazakhstan. First, women have upper hand in higher education. As mentioned in the National Science Report, “most high-skilled cadres are women, and are predominantly of reproductive age”. Women embody 53% of those with a degree at masters level or above; they also constitute 60% of doctoral candidates, 70% of students in residency and over 50% of undergraduates.

    Also, the teaching faculty in many local universities is female-dominated. Ageing professors are replaced by the younger generation, and women still continues to predominate. However, globally, in the higher education landscape, there is a gender imbalance in the distribution of academic, scientific and administrative positions. It is illustrated in the formula “the higher the position, the fewer the women”. Women still remain in the backbone of universities, carrying out the most tedious and routine jobs.

    In order to meet the growing demands put in place by the Ministry of Education and Science for all universities, teaching faculty are pushed to garner grants for research projects, be published in international journals indexed by Scopus and Web of Science, present papers at international conferences and head student start-ups.

    The creativity, energy, innovation and high achievement that senior management requires from its staff are sometimes inconsistent with the amount of work they have to do. As such, by the end of the year, faculty and administrative staff suffer from exhaustion and anxiety, leading to detachment.

    A question that is pertinent to all universities in Kazakhstan is how can they attain outstanding performance in R&D from routinely encumbered educators and particularly, the impact on women.

    A research survey conducted at the Kazakh National Women’s Teacher Training University showed that 59% of respondents chose teaching over research. Amongst those who chose doing research as their preference, results revealed that the main drive is an academic interest in conducting research. The other motivation is that it is fundamental for academics to do research to obtain the academic title of associate professor or professor from the Ministry of Education and Science.

    Some significant demotivating factors in relation to research are a lack of time, overwhelming paperwork, absence of English language ability and family responsibilities.

    The survey also pointed out the need to place research productivity and the drive for carrying out research projects in the wider context of the gendered juncture of female teaching faculty – with the deep work-life dilemmas that they encounter.

    Feminism and gender equality influenced the Republic of Kazakhstan in the mid-1900s. Since then, the women’s movement has achieved various significant achievements. However, there are still many questions such as who conducts the research and why, are still important.

    Source: University World News

    Participate in the upcoming QS WORLDWIDE 2019 under the theme of “Journey to Global Prominence: Harmony of Human Heritage and Advanced Technology” from 19-20 September 2019 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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