Eligible staff please register here >>>

Monday, 16 August 2021

#CPUTWomen2021 – Melanie Sadeck

The Head of Department: Teacher Professional Development, Melanie Sadeck is happy that more women have been appointed into senior management in Higher Education and she is confident that their presence will make a difference “but it is not easy”.

“Many women in leadership positions are still not given the support and space they require to succeed.  Empathetic, personal leadership styles are still frowned upon and sections of the HE environment are still hostile.  I am on the Board of HERS SA whose mission it is to develop women for leadership in Higher Education, so I am acutely aware of the challenges still being experienced by women despite their appointment into leadership positions.”

Sadeck also thinks that it is unfair to have unrealistic expectations of women leaders – the system often mitigates against the best efforts to promote change.

“When I took on a leadership position, I had to learn assertiveness skills and how not to take things personally. I believe you can only be a true leader when you represent and are respected by the people you lead,” she says.

I have come through the ranks and have worked with both men and women at many different levels. This has shaped my leadership style and my appreciation of how each individual/role contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of a department/ faculty/ university.”

In over 30 years in academia, Sadeck has learnt a lot about the changing landscape of higher education and how the university operates.

Reflecting on her journey at CPUT which began in February 1988, Sadeck says: “Hard work, commitment, and dedication to improving education in South Africa. I worked during my holidays and put up my hand when the department/ faculty requested staff to serve as a representative on a committee, take on a project or run a programme.”

In this period, the Faculty of Education Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning (CE and WIL) Coordinator has been involved in many committees at the faculty and institutional level. Amongst other things, Sadeck has represented Senate on Council and participates in working groups, forums, task teams, and Teacher Education Development committees in the Western Cape. She has been on the HERS SA Board for many years. Sadeck is a Board member of the South African Education Research Association (SAERA) and serves on an advisory board for a joint UK- SA project to develop a violence prevention intervention for primary schools.

Through these projects, the former high school Physical Science teacher has been able to present at conferences, publish articles and book chapters. Sadeck is also part of the community of practice in the Centre for International Teacher Education (CITE), Professional Education Research Institute (PERI), and part of the Management Team of the Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT) project. Her research interests have expanded to include Women in Leadership in Higher Education, TVET, Teaching Practice/WIL, Teacher Education and NQT.

However, Sadeck, who believes in social justice at all levels and fights hard against any form of discrimination and injustice, says coming to study and work in Cape Town from Kimberley was not easy. “I always appreciated my work so I strived to do the best I could no matter what task was given to me. At Pen Tech [CPUT], my colleagues became my family and the Bellville campus became my home.

“All levels of management and administration were supportive and confident in my abilities – even when I was doubtful. I learnt to stand up for myself and for others. My long term as the executive of the Employees Union, as Deputy Chair of the Institutional Forum, and as part of the Gender Committee contributed to my understanding of the issues facing staff particularly women and the disabled, and my work in academic support and as HoD illuminated the challenges of students. My leadership style is thus one of trust, fairness, and honesty.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce