The Open Doors Fellowship Program (ODFP) for women researchers in Africa is now receiving applications from early to mid-career women researchers working at research and academic institutions in Africa interested in receiving the necessary scientific and leadership skills to help them advance their research careers.
While almost the same number of men and women study scientific subjects at bachelor’s and master’s levels, fewer women advance to PhD and leadership levels as many drop out due to family responsibilities among others, thus thwarting efforts to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is referred to as the “leaky pipeline” of women in science.
“ODFP seeks to increase the proportion of African women in senior and leadership positions in scientific academic and research institutions to help build more gender-inclusive and diverse research and academic institutions for current and future generations,” says Laura Cortada-Gonzalez, Senior Scientific Officer at VIB-International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO).
The program targets women scientists working at national and international research centers and universities in agriculture-related fields in agro-biotechnology, plant breeding, molecular biology & genetics, microbiology, chemical ecology, plant & soil health. The fellowship is strictly for post-doctoral researchers who must have completed their studies in the last three years.
The selected fellows will receive training on hard science and in communication and leadership skills through a blend of online and face-to-face classes and a three- month stay at a Belgian laboratory to build networks with Belgian researchers for collaboration in research projects.
The fellows will also receive a series of incentives after they return to their duty stations to increase their scientific visibility. These include support with fees for publishing in Open Access journals, grants to travel to international congresses, and continuous support with online training courses from the VIB training portfolio for 24 months.
In the second phase of the program, the fellows will also conduct activities locally through 'science on the road' events and promote women's role in science and academia within their communities.
“We shall start small by supporting 10 fellows over the next three years and will grow the number gradually as we partner with more African organizations and Belgian institutions and contribute towards the empowerment of many more women scientists in Africa,” says Cortada-Gonzalez.
While the fellowship is for a duration of 24 months, the period may be extended to women who become pregnant or with other health challenges. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the advisory board of the Open Doors Program
The comprehensive program will also work at the institutional level, including training the fellow’s direct supervisors and providing a stimulus program to impel women's progression in their careers at these institutions which also have a role to play in addressing gender diversity and inclusion.
The first round of selection of the applicants will take place in January 2022 followed by online interviews in February and final selection of the awardees by March 2022. The awardees will be expected to join their receiving institutions in Belgium from May 2020 for 8-12 weeks.
The ODFP is a project of the VIB-IPBO with funds from the Marc and Nora Van Montagu Fund. Partners in the initiative include the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), African Women in Science and Engineering (AWSE), BeWise, The UGent Africa Platform, and the African Women for Biosciences (AWfB).
Introduction to Leadership and Governance
Globally, competent leadership and governance are recognized as key to economic and political success of a nation. High growth organizations and institutions have been found to be characterized by effective leadership. Failed institutions have been diagnosed to have poor and incompetent leadership. The core purpose of this programme therefore, is to develop a new crop of leaders that provide solutions to 21st century challenges. Graduates of the programme will be empowered to solve complex governance problems as well as leadership challenges and explore emerging global issues that affect governance and leadership in civil society, private and public sectors.
The programme targets leaders in middle and senior level positions who are looking up to greater responsibilities of being at the helm of globally competitive organizations and institutions. Learners will acquire required skills that will enable them to support the three sectors to further the successes achieved in political governance and economic progress. The thrust is to empower learners with practical and research-based knowledge.
This is a two-year programme that provides a platform for the middle and senior level leaders, to interface theory with practical experience in order to bring out innovative solutions in tandem with the ever changing environment. The programme is a learner-centered curriculum, which is geared towards widening one’s perspective in developing skills and strategies that focus on global governance environment as it affects institutions and organizations’ strategic market positioning. It seeks to attract professionals with diverse expertise across industry and functional governance areas. The programme will be run by experienced professionals with excellent delivery skills and hands-on experiential learning.
Globally, many governments and organizations face leadership and governance challenges. This calls for highly qualified personnel with knowledge and research skills to take up leadership and governance roles in various organizations and institutions. Senior leaders in organizations’ management and in business require high level skills to predict, analyze and develop strategies to deal with real life situations that they are likely to encounter in the competitive changing organizational environments. The high dynamism in the current organizational and business environments requires senior leaders and managers to devise different ways of doing things that will enable them create sustainable competitive advantage over other firms. This requires transformative leadership, integration of technology, holistic approach to corporate and business in courses such as strategic human resource management, change management, strategic management, business ethics and governance, information communication and technology management, communication management and decision-making models.
Current research supports the notion that senior leaders who have new skills in creativity, innovativeness and entrepreneurship impact positively in their organizations. Likewise, senior leaders in management of today’s organizations or business are seeking higher skills. These skills would enhance their capacities as drivers of transformative leadership, improve their creativity and innovativeness and advance their individual and organizational entrepreneurial capability. Consequently, leaders would turn into change agents that would transform their society.
Individuals in the public and private sectors wishing to pursue courses in leadership and governance have limited opportunities in the training in leadership and governance competences. The Kenyatta University Master of Leadership and Governance Degree Programme targets individuals who wish to take up leadership and governance responsibility in public and private sectors. The programme will equip its learners with skills and tools to interrogate real life situations to enable them develop innovative and transformative strategies that will not just make their institutions better, but also transform them into innovative entities. While making an emphasis on experiential learning, the KU Programme will blend real life situations and research with case studies, against a theoretical background that would create relevance to the Kenyan context.
A cutting edge, dynamic and versatile leadership and governance programme.
To develop competent, well-rounded professionals in leadership and governance that can transform public, private and civil society sectors.
Programme Expected Learning Outcomes
- Provide transformative leadership and good governance in organizations both locally and internationally.
- Apply values and leadership competences at the workplace.
- Tap and develop talents within organizations.
- Develop innovative, creative and entrepreneurial leaders to serve in the public, private and civil society sectors.
- Initiate an effective governance framework in organizations
- The general regulations for all Masters’ degrees in the University shall apply.
- The following shall be eligible for registration for the MLG degree in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences:
- A holder of a bachelor's degree with at least upper second class honors degree of Kenyatta University or any other recognized university.
- A holder of a lower second class degree of Kenyatta University or any other recognized university with at least two years relevant experience in research, administration or management
- Any other qualification recognized by the University Senate.
Pattern and Duration of the Programme
- The MLG degree programme consists of coursework, examination and research project/thesis.
- The programme will be offered in two modes, Full-Time and Part-Time, with students in both modes being required to take a total of eighteen (18) units by the end of the programme.
- In the first year of study, a student will be required to take five (5) units in the first semester and five (5) units in the second semester.
- A student who opts to pursue the MLG degree course through a thesis will undertake a thesis research in the second year of study. The thesis shall be equivalent to eight (8) units.
- During the second year of study, a student pursuing the degree by project will be required to take four (4) units in the first semester and undertake a research project in the second semester. The research project shall be equivalent to four units.
- The duration of the programme shall be two (2) academic years.
- University examination regulations shall apply.
- University examinations shall be given at the end of each semester and shall contribute 60 percent of the total marks, while the continuous assessment shall constitute the remaining 40 percent.
- For the purposes of evaluation, a research project shall be regarded as equivalent to four (4) units and shall be examined at the end of the academic year.
- The duration for the University examination shall be three (3) hours per unit.
- The minimum pass mark for each unit shall be 50%.
- A candidate who fails to satisfy requirement 3e above may be permitted on the recommendation of the Board of Examiners and with the approval of the Senate to take supplementary examinations in the failed units up to a maximum of two units in any academic year. The maximum mark attainable in each unit examined in supplementary examination shall be 50%.
- A candidate who fails to satisfy the examiners in supplementary examination shall be discontinued.
- A candidate shall not be allowed to undertake project work prior to passing supplementary examination if any.
- A candidate who fails more than two units in the ordinary University examinations in any one year shall be discontinued.