Study shows low coverage of female academic leadership by the Ghanaian media


A study conducted by three lecturers of UniMAC-GIJ, has revealed that the Ghanaian media spent limited space covering the feats achieved by females in academia unlike their counterparts in other professions.

This comes on the back of four (4) females becoming official holders of four principal positions at Ghana’s first University, the University of Ghana, Legon, famously tagged as the “Legon Big 4.”

This, according to the researchers, marks the first time an educational institution has women at topmost leadership positions in the country, hence, needed much attention from the media.

The researchers, Dr. Solace Yawa Asafo, Ms. Marcia Abonie, and Ms. Offeibea Awuku, made this known at the seventh inter-faculty lecture held on Friday, July 28, 2023 at the North Dzorwulu Campus of the Univeristy of Media, Arts and Communication, (UniMAC)-Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), under the auspices of the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Development (DRID).

The researchers presented on their study topic, “Framing and Attitudinal Analysis of female Academic leadership in the Ghanaian Media.”

The four women holding the principal positions for the first time are Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hisse, Chancellor of UG, Mrs. Justice Sophia Akuffo (rtd.), Chair, Governing Council of UG, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor of UG, and Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah, Registrar of UG.

Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo became the first female Vice-Chancellor at the University of Ghana. Prior to her appointment as Vice-Chancellor in October 2021, she served as Acting Vice-Chancellor from August 2021.

Speaking after the presentation, Ms. Marcia Abonie, a lecturer at the Faculty of Integrated Communication Sciences (FICS) and co-researcher said, “This is a novelty and significant, we’ve had female vice-chancellors, female chancellors but these are isolated cases. In this case all four from one institution, we regarded this as newsworthy and as important so based on that let’s find out the position of the media if we regard this as newsworthy.”

Ms. Abonie also stated that based on the results, the media was generally “unenthusiastic about matters of female academics” which was evident in the limited details and perspective attached to their reportage on the “Legon Big 4”.

She however noted that the only detailed perspective and insight according their data was from feature stories or columns, which were not written by journalists or people in the media.

“…so the media or the journalists themselves only wrote straight news stories that was the dominant, 10 straight news stories that didn’t present extra information, it didn’t present their affection or appreciation or judgement to the matter,” Ms. Abonie said.


The study was situated in the broader framework of media representation of females with a focus on female leaders in academia.

It argues that while the media generally underrepresent women, women in academia are further given less prominence.

On the media coverage of females along occupational lines, the study revealed that, women as homemakers had the highest coverage between 2015 and 2020 representing 67% and 68% respectively.

Women in politics and entertainment also ranked in the top while female academics ranked seventh.

According to the study, the columns, which were written by an academic, and a writer who were not found in the media space yet portrayed a positive attitudinal attitude.

They also provided a more engaging storyline and thus placing importance and further attention to the female academic leaders that the news stories were about.

The researchers recommended that it is very important to cover all the nuanced perspectives that deal with the coverage of females in the media in future studies.

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