A Feminist Case Study on Women's Academic Leadership in Mongolia

Year: 2017

Author: Purvee, Anar

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation draws on a doctoral case study in progress which adopts a transnational feminist lens to examine the challenges and opportunities for women academic's leadership in Mongolian universities. Drawing on interviews with senior women academics in Mongolian public and private universities, as well as document analysis of university policies, it explores the phenomenon of under-representation of women academics in Mongolian universities.

Mongolia is a landlocked developing country, which gained its economic freedom and democracy during the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Ever since then, numerous changes have occurred in its society, in particular increased gender inequality in education. In most cases of gender inequality, females are more disadvantaged than males, however, an opposite form of inequality in education has occurred in Mongolia. Due to a transitional economic crisis, households experienced intense financial difficulties; most families supported their daughters to study whereas their sons had to move into the labour force as primary breadwinners. As a result, women-based human capital was formed in Mongolia.

Despite their higher education levels, the labour market in Mongolia remains highly gendered with women over-represented in sectors such as education, health and tourism. In addition, women remain considerably under-represented in leadership positions in all sectors, including the higher education sector. Gender inequity in leadership is a global problem; there exist a growing body of literature on this phenomenon. However, the scholarship of women's leadership in higher education has been critiqued for being a hegemonic field, predominantly composed of studies conducted in English speaking Western countries. Accordingly, there exist much less research and knowledge about women's leadership in higher education in non-Western countries in contrast to those in Western countries. Particularly, no research is currently being conducted on this phenomenon in Mongolia. Therefore, this research will become a pioneering study in Mongolia.

Moreover, this research proposes that supporting women's leadership in higher education could provide a crucial solution for improving the sector's leadership and growth. In addition to this human capital argument, this research claims a human rights issue. Providing women with an equitable opportunity for taking on leadership roles is a serious necessity for affirming human rights in Mongolia. In so doing, this research would contribute to understanding and constructing the foundation of the context in Mongolia. Furthermore, it would provide a significant theoretical contribution to the literature gap on women's academic leadership on behalf of a non-Western country.