The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has congratulated Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng on her appointment as the second female black vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) in the institution’s history since its establishment in 1829.
“This appointment of Professor Phakeng as the second black woman vice-chancellor of UCT will serve as an inspiration to women in academia that gender parity can be realised if women can be afforded opportunities such as these,” the commission said in a statement on Sunday.
The CGE believed that Phakeng, through the leadership qualities she had displayed over the years in academia, would do exceptionally well. The CGE expected that she would receive support from the entire UCT community as a sign that South Africa had outgrown patriarchy.
The commission’s report on transformation in institutions of higher learning had revealed a lack of transformation and a serious reluctance when it came to women ascending positions of power and influence in higher education. “This appointment, we believe, will go a long way in ensuring that more women are considered for senior positions in institutions of higher learning and society in general,” the commission said..
The CGE urged and expected Phakeng to seriously fast-track gender transformation at UCT to represent the demographics of the country. In a country where there was reluctance to promote women in academia, the CGE believed Phakeng would do more to help advance women of all races, especially black women into professorship.
“The CGE will always, if called upon, give necessary advice in gender-related aspects in ensuring that gender equality and equity is attained in academia. It is our firm belief that women and girl children will look at this not as a fulfilment of a dream for Professor Phakeng, but as inspiration for them to excel in their respective fields and to work towards occupying key leadership positions, authority, and decision-making,” the commission said.
On Friday, UCT announced that Phakeng, currently the deputy vice-chancellor for research and internationalisation at UCT, had been appointed by council as the new vice-chancellor of the university with effect from July 1, 2018. Phakeng would take over from Dr Max Price, who had held the position since 2008.