Gender-Based Research Capacity Building as Transitional Process within the South African Higher Education Context: Towards A Community of Practice

Christel Marais, Karien du Bryun, Charlene Downing, Fathima Mahomed, Idah Naile, Onica Matsheke, Emsie Dicks, Osayuwamen Omoruyi, Reshma Maharajh, Jeanette Kearney, Christa Grobler

Abstract


The shifting political landscape of higher education in South Africa has challenged academia at universities of technology to embrace a “new way of doing” which includes the broader research agenda. Met with an initial sense of resistance and noticeable fear of the unknown by the staff of these institutions, it became apparent that communities of practice (CoP) need to be established, especially among female academia. As a result the Women in Research (WiR) initiative was formed in order to establish a research culture through capacity-building initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to uncover the meaning-making of the WiR initiative for participants as they develop their research identity through a collective scholarly engagement. A qualitative, phenomenological and contextual paradigm with non-probability, purposive self-selection sampling was employed. This collective approach helped the participants to form a research identity, provided a nurturing environment characterised by trusting engagement, mentorship and connectedness. Lastly, intellectual companionship and a sense of coherence took centre stage. The potential spin offs of such a WiR initiative need to be recognised and embraced as the research community strives towards capacity building and research outputs within the broader higher educational context.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n23p97


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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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