Women and Leadership in Higher Education in Mongolia: A Feminist Qualitative Study

Year: 2019

Author: Purvee, Anar

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study presents the findings of a doctoral case study on women’s academic leadership in Mongolia, which aims to investigate women’s under-representation in leadership in the higher education sector of Mongolia.

Mongolia was a Soviet-style communist country and had several public higher education institutions during the communist time. In 1990, Mongolia transitioned into a democracy, reduced its support to public institutions and legalised private higher education institutions. Accordingly, a large number of private institutions were established.Nonetheless, due to their longer history and constant support from the government, public universities have much higher reputations while private universities have much lower reputations. Interestingly, however, such image differences have shaped women’s careers differently in the sector. Although women constitute more than half of the labour force in the sector, they are far more equitably represented in leadership in the private, less prestigious universities than in the public universities.

In order to investigate this inequitable situation, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight women academic leaders in Mongolia, three from private and five from public universities, employing a feminist lens. The interview findings show that the women leaders in this study had different career trajectories at Mongolian public and private universities, which had different practices.

Much of the feminist literature on women in leadership in higher education has tended to focus on Western countries. There is a small body of research on women in higher education in Asia, but virtually none in a non-Western, former communist country. As such, this study contributes empirically by providing a unique insight into this neglected geopolitical space.