The rise to top managerial positions by Ghanaian females in academia is sparse and few. The situation has largely been attributed to societal, cultural and personal barriers.

Currently, only 1% of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields occupy top managerial positions in academia.

For example, the proportion of women at the professorial level is approximately 1.5% at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), which typically reflects other public higher institutions of learning in the country.

The 'Leadership Workshop for Mid-Career Females in Academia' was carried out to help equip mid-career females in academia with management and leadership skills.

This workshop under the theme: 'Bridging the Gender Gap in Academia Leadership' is the first edition of the Executive Leadership Centre for Professional Women (ExCeL) at KNUST.

The ExCeL initiative, conceived in 2017, was spearheaded by former Vice-Chancellor and Project Chairperson of KNUST, Prof William Otoo Ellis.

He assembled a group of female professionals from KNUST with diverse backgrounds and at different levels in their academic progressions to discuss and share the dream. The group agreed that there was a need for such an intervention. 

The long-term goal of the KNUST ExCeL project is to be an internationally recognised centre for bridging the leadership gender gap through the training of professional women in the West African region.

This first workshop aimed to build mastery and branding to break glass ceilings and overcome societal impediments. It also leveraged the developed competencies of participants to navigate leadership pathways to the very top."

"When you come to academia, rarely do you have females in the STEM fields taking up leadership positions. Even if we move far in our career, it mostly ends with being astute researchers; we think it's critical to groom and train females in STEM to take up positions when the need arise," Grant Awardee and Project Coordinator, Dr Abena Boakye said.

The ten mid-career females who aspire for top-management positions were drawn from KNUST, University for Development Studies, Dr Hilla Limann Technical University, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research - University of Ghana, Kumasi Technical University and University of Mines and Technology.

Echoing the thoughts of the project team, Dr. Florence Ellis, intimated" "We are proud of this first cohort coming from all the major Universities in Ghana including the Premier University (KNUST) and have high hopes for them to better serve Academia in senior management roles, and also become a rich resource that other professional females can tap into across the globe in pursuance of international efforts to bridge the gender gap in leadershi"."

The three-day event, which took place in Kumasi, featured topics such as personal grooming and branding, effective leadership: rising to the top in Academia, Work-Life Balance: the stakeholders in our lives, Handling problems in a high-performance work environment and Mentorship in career progression.

Participants' Impressions

Some participants gave their impressions after the workshop" "After planning, the question is, what next? How do you keep body and soul together so that you can sustain these plans that you have? That is why we need to have a work-life balance. Which includes the physical, the professional, relationship and even our relationship with the supreme bein"," Prof. Marian Asantewah Nkansah of the Department of Chemistry – KNUST, summarised.

A lecturer at the KNUST School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr Perditer Okyere, relished the experience" "My expectations have been fully met. Knowing who you are, where you want to go and how you want to do it, has run through all the sessions. The things we spoke about were very practical"."

"I'm completely impressed, anwe'veve had amazing lecture"," Dr Abena Agyeiwaa Obiri-Yeboah of the Kumasi Technical University said.

This first edition of the Project was funded by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The first cohort of participants were: Prof Marian Asantewah Nkansah (KNUST), Dr Abena Agyeiwaa Obiri-Yeboah (Kumasi Technical University), Dr Lydia Kwoyiga (University for Development Studies) and Prof. Grace Ofori-Sarpong (University of Mines and Technology)

The rest are Dr Gloria Ivy Mensah (Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana), Juliana Serwaa Andoh (KNUST), Dr Vivian Estiapa Boamah (KNUST), Dr Hamidatu S. Darimani (Dr Hilla Limann Technical University), Dr Perditer Okyere (KNUST) and Dr Gifty Adom-Asamoah (KNUST)

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