On January 27th, 2017, Sally opened the spring seminar series for the women and public policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School. She presented findings from her riveting research on girls education in Ghana.
A description of the research is below:
Recent literature on non-cognitive skills provides promising evidence on the power of community and classroom based interventions for closing achievement gaps across school quality, race, and class. Yet, much of this work has been conducted on males that attend elite institutions in the U.S. There is very little work on how these same tactics can be implemented to overcome gender barriers and improve educational achievement of girls, particularly those that attend schools in non-western settings. In this seminar, Sally Nuamah investigates the experiences of girls from underprivileged backgrounds in Ghana striving to be the first in their families to go to college. She finds that school structure - leadership, curriculum, and peer networks - mediates the effects of their socio-cultural environments and individual background through the facilitation of positive academic identities (non-cognitive skills) that promote identity building and strategy development. These positive academic identities are useful for navigating the gender specific barriers that these girls face, thereby enabling their academic achievement.