Women’s Participation in Management and Leadership Positions in the Public Sector: Closing the Gender Gap

According to KNBS (2019), women are major actors in Kenya’s economy, particularly in agriculture and the informal sector. The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI, 2015) observes that gender inequality at work is mirrored by gendered perceptions of appropriate work by society. The participation of women in employment has a direct impact on their incomes and livelihoods (Atieno, 2006). To address gender inequalities at work, the Kenya Government has established legislative frameworks, entrenched in various policy documents that mandate promotion of women’s empowerment. Despite these measures, the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ranks Kenya at 95 out of 156 countries on gender equity scale and identifies significant gender inequalities in several areas of the economy, including underrepresentation of women in formal segments of the labour market. Women’s participation in formal employment in both public and private sectors has persistently remained low at 34% (KNBS 2019). Progressive provisions of both policy and legislation have had a debatable impact in this area. This study aims to identify and analyse factors that contribute to women’s under-representation in management and leadership positions in the public sector. The effectiveness of the National Policy on Gender and Development (2000) (and its subsequent amendments in 2011 and 2019) will be the focus of the evaluation. The expected outcome of the study is an increase in the representation of women in management and leadership positions in the public sector by 30% by 2025.

The study adopts a mixed methods approach to quantify and explain changes in women’s employment trends in management and leadership positions. Both secondary and primary data will be collected using the various data collection tools which include structured interview schedules, document checklists, observation schedules, Case studies guides, key informants interview schedule and a two weeks 24 hour smart diary.

A mixed sampling procedure, using cluster-stage, systematic random sampling and purposive sampling, will be used to reach the institutions as well as the units of analysis. The first cluster will comprise of public institutions in all the 21 Government Ministries and 45 State Departments. These are further divided into 10 sectors in line with the National Treasury and Planning sector working group circular Number 26/2020 guideline for the preparation of 2021/2022- 2023/2024 Medium term budget, for planning purposes. Three sectors (30%) out of the 10 were purposively sampled, and four Ministries from these sectors purposively selected based on their mandate and scope.

Data is currently not available on the management placement in the public service both at national and county level. Therefore, stratified random sampling will be used to sample women in management level Job group J to L (tier 11 to 9), M to P (Tier 8 to 7) and Q (not tiered) to V (tier 1) in all the four Ministries. A list of all women working in each ministry in the three levels will be created. From the list, every nth woman will be sampled until a representative sample of 30% is arrived at. Tharaka Nithi County Government, which is also a partner in this study will be purposively sampled as a rural setting with both high potential agricultural areas and a semi-arid environment best suited for pastoralism.  Kisumu County is selected as a representative city, which boasts of a blue economy, an entry port, and a rapidly growing city. In Tharaka Nithi County the total population in the management comprises 675 employees of whom 292 (43.3%) are women and 383 (56.7%) are men in low upper and top management of the county. A sample of 183 (27%) in Tharaka Nithi will be adequate.  The same will be done for Kisumu County.

The control group in the study will comprise of women who have managed to get serving in top management, job groups Q to V. These will give their experiences and provide data on what drives women to decision making and policy shaping positions. These will be identified from the ministries and county governments in the study and through snowballing and chain-referral method.

The partners in the project are the Ministry of Public Service and Gender; National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC); Public Service Commission (PSC); Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS); Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust, CRAWN-Trust; the Council of Governors; Tharaka Nithi County and Kisumu County.