Tag Archives: Tanzania

In their own words: challenges and opportunities for Tanzanian women researchers
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Women researchers from Dodoma University, AuthorAID project meeting, December 2016, Tanzania.
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– Blog post by Jennifer Chapin, Programme Manager, Research and Communication, AuthorAID

“Everyone had noticed the issues women faced but no one had talked about it before. Only when all of the women came together to discuss it as a group did they realise they all had the same experiences.” – Ruth Bottomley, discussing the Gender workshop at University of Dodoma, 2015

In December 2016, the AuthorAID team had the opportunity to talk to women researchers in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

We spoke to women who are senior lecturers, field researchers and teachers, from universities in Dar es Salaam and in other cities in Tanzania. They told us about their experiences and they spent time thoughtfully answering our questions. We were interested to know what obstacles they saw in progressing in their careers, and in what ways their experiences differed from their male counterparts.

Many women told us that the challenges start at home. Household activities are women’s activities and this means that weekends are full of laundry, cleaning dishes, cooking, looking after children and ensuring their children do their homework: “there is no time for taking online courses or doing experiments; weekends are taken up with children and chores.” This was chorused by other women who said that there are stereotypical views on “work for women” and “work for men.” Some told us about how their male supervisors were biased against the recruitment of women, explaining that women are not suited to do the field research needed because it involves dealing with livestock (“too difficult”) or collecting samples at night (“not right for women”).

Within universities and research institutes, women feel that the odds are stacked against them, so that they are already trying to catch up to men from the very start. Many told us that they had to work twice as hard to be recognized for achieving the same results. One academic told us that her supervisor criticised her paper harshly in front of a group of people in a way he would never have done if it had been a man’s paper instead. She said: “If it were a man he would have put it in a different way, because how would a man react to that statement?”. Other women shared similar situations, instances where their paper or data was disregarded because of their gender and because they were not seen as capable as men. “The data I collected was excluded from the final report,” she claimed.

Some women explained their feelings of loneliness being one in a small group of women in their male-dominated fields, particularly in the maths and sciences: “sometimes you realise you are the only woman there. There may only be one woman in 50 men.” This shows that women’s networks across institutions are crucial. Yet, many told us that groups or networks for women are rare, and so there are very few platforms for women to share their experiences with each other.

Most women also saw a gap in being able to access a female mentor, someone more senior in their field or university, “we could use a mentor – someone who has been there before.” In reality, very few of the senior women lecturers in their institution expressed an interest, or had the time, to mentor the younger generation.

With all of these challenges, many women still felt hopeful for the future, and they expressed an interest in developing women’s groups or networks, in empowering younger women in science, and in supporting women through the AuthorAID network by signing up as a mentor. One woman echoed the thoughts of all the women we met by expressing how she empowers herself, “I say to myself that ‘I give confidence to myself’ so that I feel confident that I have what I need to move forward despite the challenges.” ■

Find out more about gender gaps in higher education institutions in Tanzania: Why not me? Why not us? Tackling the gender gap in Tanzania, A video developed by INASP, in partnership with University of Dodoma (UDOM), Tanzania.

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How do you build a ‘system view’ of a country – and then what do you do next?
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In the last year or so we’ve been grappling at INASP with what it means to take a systems approach to capacity building (and we’re not the only ones thinking about this, as ITAD’s framework suggests). As we blogged last year, we have begun by trying to develop a more detailed ‘systems’ view of some of the countries in which we work. It’s an exploratory approach – and these are by no means detailed, in-depth pieces of analysis. But they do give us a much richer understanding of some of the key enablers and obstacles to our work. And they show that light-but-valuable analysis of this type is within the scope of even a small NGO like INASP (we currently have around 30 members of staff, working in over 20 countries). Step one:  a quick sketch We’ve taken a two-stage approach. Firstly we’ve quickly mapped the research and knowledge system … Continue reading

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“Digital development” – the last 100 metres
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Tech-solutionism is fairly common in the development sector; we regularly hear that a new widget or (increasingly) the latest app is going to transform some aspect of service delivery or save innumerable hours of time. The same thinking has swamped much discussion on higher education (HE) in the last few years, an issue typified by recent talk about MOOCs. And, as the development sector looks increasingly at the role that higher education has to play in transforming societies and economies, the streams run together. Of course technology plays and has played a vital role in development – in medicine or agriculture for example – and technology and online learning offer huge possibilities for HE. But sometimes it feels like we’re caught in our own hype. Undoubtedly, better broadband connectivity, greater mobile penetration, more students with smartphones and laptops – these are all changing the possibilities for learning, and for the way universities … Continue reading

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Library consortia sharing expertise: A small meeting tackling important issues in Addis Ababa
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Addis Ababa is used to hosting big and important meetings. The African Union and UNECA are both based here. A few weeks ago the UN Financing for Development conference brought several thousand visitors to Addis Ababa. And on Sunday evening President Obama flew in from Kenya. But this week Addis is also playing host to a smaller, quieter event – but an important one nevertheless. Seven library consortia have come together in Addis, hosted by the Consortium for Ethiopian Academic and Research Libraries (CEARL) and facilitated by INASP, to spend five days sharing ideas, learning, and collectively identifying solutions to some of the many challenges they share. But library consortia aren’t just clubs or networks of libraries: they play a key role in enabling a strong and effective research and knowledge system. By enabling their member institutions to collectively purchase online journals and books, consortia are making a critical contribution … Continue reading

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Slogans, social media and competition drive students into libraries for innovative winners of 2014 E-Resource Promotion grants
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Since 2011, INASP has offered several small grants of up to $500 to libraries and consortia to assist them in promoting their online journals and books – or e-resources. In the  2014 cycle, librarians and library staff at universities in INASP partner countries came up with creative and imaginative ways to reach out to students, reaching over 7600 people through their activities. Some applicant institutions were finding that, while they had a high-quality and wide-ranging collection of e-resources, many students simply weren’t using them. At the Mwenge University College of Education (MWUCE) in Tanzania, a survey found that 38% of students had no awareness of e-resources. In most cases this was because they were not equipped with the skills or knowledge to be comfortable in accessing the resources. At Kenya’s United States International University (USUI) Library staff suspected that students found the library environment a ‘mystifying’ place, with e-resources the … Continue reading

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Launch of the Consortium of Academic Publishers in Tanzania
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Does Tanzania have a reading culture? This was one of the questions raised at the launch of the Consortium of Academic Publishers in Tanzania, held at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) on June 16. Although everybody present at the launch was very enthusiastic about the project and the possibilities it will offer to strengthen digital and academic publishing in Tanzania, there was also discussion about the challenges and difficulties of publishing in this country. Children grow up in an environment where reading isn’t stimulated and access to high quality publications is difficult. In addition to this, universities give credits for publishing in international journals, but do not acknowledge articles published in Tanzanian journals. That will be one of the tasks of the newly established consortium: liaising with the Tanzanian Commission for Universities to have a standardized list for all universities of recommended international AND indigenous journals. Another … Continue reading

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