Influential structures: understanding the role of the head of department in relation to women academics’ research careers
This study was conducted at a small ‘research-led’ institution in South Africa. The data indicate that women produce less research than men and have low levels of professional self-esteem. Factors such as accrual of social capital, family responsibilities and self-esteem are constraints experienced by women academics in pursuing research careers. Mentoring was found to facilitate research career development and improve levels of self-esteem. Improved self-esteem enables women to promote themselves within their institutions and in the research arena. The role of the head of department with mentoring as a key function emerged as an influential structure for the career advancement of women academics. However, these leadership positions are significantly dominated by men and this appears to affect the amount and nature of mentoring women academics receive.