Although gender inequality is present in numerous regions of the world, certain parts of Sub-Saharan Africa exhibit notoriously low rates of female secondary school instructors. In fact, many of the countries in this region occupy top positions in the list of 20 countries with the smallest proportion of female high school teachers. But what exactly is the cause? The answer lies not just in “a” cause, but many.
Gender Inequality: What Are the Causes?
In countries such as Liberia, where just 5% of the secondary school teachers are female, a number of cultural and institutional factors influence and impact women in their choice of a career. The prevalent assumptions that daughters – and thus women – should focus on becoming a resource for their husbands’ families often demotivate women to adopt a career or take up a job. Women are pressurized to marry early and bear children at a very young age. The few who decide to enter training programs to become a teacher do not receive any additional financial or emotional support from their families. Although Liberia is currently making an effort to promote policies that focus on the inclusion of women in its society, the patrilineal nature of the country’s indigenous groups makes this difficult. Meanwhile, although Benin’s proportion of female teachers is more than double of Liberia’s, enrollment rates for women in schools have been quite low over the years. With low levels of education, women in the country can hardly dare to think of a professional career. Just take a look at the literacy rates of the nation: while the overall adult literacy rate is almost 40%, only 25% of women are literate. On top of the cultural pressures that make life difficult for female high school teachers, women who do successfully overcome cultural odds to become teachers face yet another challenge: harsh working conditions. For example, in Liberia, large class sizes, and overaged students makes being a teacher an ordeal that, in combination with oppressive cultural factors, pushes many women away from the profession. Even outside of Africa, women face hardships when trying to become a secondary school teacher. In Peru, 44% of high school teachers are female, yet they still face discrimination that is rooted deep in the country’s culture. Even women with adequate academic qualifications are ignored while men with the same qualifications are favored simply because of the gender bias situation prevailing in the society. In the case of Peru, the problem of women in secondary education can also be linked to culture. Looking back thousands of years all the way up to and including the Inca Empire, most of the social groups that were living in the regions of modern-day Peru were predominately patriarchal in nature. Furthermore, during the Inca Empire, masters taught the sons of the imperial elite, while even the most highly respected, revered young women were taught skills such as food preparation and weaving.
A Long Road Ahead
No matter which country you pick out from the list, the root causes of the low proportion of female high school teachers are complex and deeply ingrained in the culture of such nations. It will likely take years of implementation of new policies and a re-examination of cultural norms for these countries to truly make a change to the concerning statistics that we currently see.
20 Countries With The Smallest Proportion Of Female High School Teachers
|Rank||Country||% of Secondary School Instructors that are Female|
|14||Sao Tome and Principe||30%|