Grace Alele-Williams, Women in Higher Education Management: The Nigerian Context.

We gave a brief extract from Grace Alele Williams' paper Women in Higher Education Management: The Nigerian Context:


I have tried in this paper to highlight the needs and difficulties of the career woman who, despite numerous constraints, was able to make it to the top. But this paper would not be complete without bringing in some personal experiences which, in themselves, have served as references for the production of this paper. The acquisition of skills and movement to the top was not an easy process. Yet, with hard work and the desire to succeed, I was able to overcome the various problems. Also, the skills and level of competence required for the top were not obtained without effort. Establishing a working relationship with my peers and subordinates was even harder. Although male colleagues recognized that highly qualified women exist, they were not ready to give the expected support, help and advice when needed.

The determination to succeed in an exclusive male preserve was the key factor. Moreover, I was competing with them in a system they understood better and in which they were far more comfortable and much more familiar. At this level, the challenges of supervision, decision and policy-making as well as of leadership depend greatly on the ability to trust and to delegate power to others. In my experience, this called for a very careful study and assessment of behavioural processes of peers and subordinates. Trusting and delegating power to the wrong people would invariably lead to the failure of the system. The work of planning the day-to-day management of the institution needed to be handled by an excellent team, which had to be carefully and personally selected. Planning covered a wide range of decisions, including the clarification and identification of specific procedures to be used in the daily running of affairs. This is why the team in charge of this function has to be properly assessed. Also, there was the job of issuing instructions, motivation and establishing normal personal relationships with peers and subordinates. Some managers do not have the ability to delegate actual responsibility to subordinates. This was where I encountered my initial difficulties as a Vice-Chancellor. But, with my early training and experience acquired over the years in dealing with human resources, I was able to assess, choose and delegate authority to my team of administrators and academics.

There are various management styles. The style that works for one person might not necessarily work for another. Thus, finding the management style that worked for me was another uphill task. After trying out a number of methods, I was able to select the most effective and result-oriented. I am happy to say that this has worked very satisfactorily for me during the past seven years.


JOC/EFR March 2019

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