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Mobility, Gender and Career Development in Higher Education: Results of a Multi-Country Survey of African Academic Scientists


  • Heidi Prozesky

    () (Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology, and DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and STI Policy, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa)

  • Catherine Beaudry

    () (Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering, Polytechnique Montreal, P.O. Box 6079, Centre-ville Station, Montréal, QC H3C 3A7, Canada
    Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST), Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada)


Empirical knowledge of the mobility of African scientists, and women scientists in particular, holds an important key to achieving future success in the science systems of the continent. In this article, we report on an analysis of a subset of data from a multi-country survey, in order to address a lack of evidence on the geographic mobility of academic scientists in Africa, and how it relates to gender and career development. First, we compared women and men from 41 African countries in terms of their educational and work-related mobility, as well as their intention to be mobile. We further investigated these gendered patterns of mobility in terms domestic responsibilities, as well as the career-related variables of research output, international collaboration, and receipt of funding. Our focus then narrowed to only those women scientists who had recently been mobile, to provide insights on the benefits mobility offered them. The results are interpreted within a theoretical framework centered on patriarchy. Our findings lead us to challenge some conventional wisdoms, as well as recommend priorities for future research aimed at understanding, both theoretically and empirically, the mobility of women in the science systems of Africa, and the role it may play in their development as academic leaders in African higher education institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Heidi Prozesky & Catherine Beaudry, 2019. "Mobility, Gender and Career Development in Higher Education: Results of a Multi-Country Survey of African Academic Scientists," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(6), pages 1-14, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:8:y:2019:i:6:p:188-:d:239723

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Baruffaldi, Stefano H. & Landoni, Paolo, 2012. "Return mobility and scientific productivity of researchers working abroad: The role of home country linkages," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(9), pages 1655-1665.
    2. Clark, Andrew E., 1997. "Job satisfaction and gender: Why are women so happy at work?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 341-372, December.
    3. Heidi Prozesky & Nelius Boshoff, 2012. "Bibliometrics as a tool for measuring gender-specific research performance: an example from South African invasion ecology," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 90(2), pages 383-406, February.
    4. Grant Lewison, 2001. "The quantity and quality of female researchers: A bibliometric study of Iceland," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 52(1), pages 29-43, September.
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    More about this item


    mobility; localism; gender; career development; African scientists; higher education institutions; multi-country survey; domestic responsibilities; research output; working conditions;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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