Rethinking Gender Centres in Nigerian Universities

Institutional resistance, layering, gender centres, gender stakeholders, Nigerian universities, Gender policy

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October 26, 2022

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For the past three decades, discussions centred on gender equity have become buzzwords in academic institutions in Nigeria, which has led to an increasing effort to establish gender centres and adopt equity policies. Despite the awareness and presence of gender centres in Nigerian universities, institutionalising gender equity has been challenging. There is a struggle to explain how policy absence and gender centre mergers may constrain positive institutional gender change. This article explores why academic institutions have established gender centres but have not created gender policies. Taking into account the gender stakeholder’s perspectives in two purposively selected universities in Nigeria, this study utilises an integrated feminist approach to investigate why university gender centres are unable to advance gender equity within the institutions. Concepts like institutional resistance and layering offered tools that helped capture the dynamics of institutional change and stasis in the case studies. Findings showed that the existence of gender centres without formalised policies is a window-dressing approach that limits the potential for gender equity within the universities. It also revealed how the redirection of gender centres through mergers with other centres is ‘gendered’. Evidence showed that the prospect for institutional gender change is often tempered by merging incompatible and non-complementary centres. This study, thus, adds to the scholarly literature on institutional resistance, providing valuable insights into the subtle manifestations of resistance towards gender equity institutionalisation in academia.