This article explores concerns about gender inequality in Zimbabwean state
universities. The researcher’s interest arose from the realisation of persistent gender
inequalities despite initiatives to close gender gaps. Of particular concern is the
conceptualization and operationalisation of gender equality in institutions. Focusing
only on the student admissions sector, this paper critically surveys the experiences
of the departmental chairpersons and students who enrolled through affirmative
action, their vision of gender equality and the impact thereof on the inclusion
of the said students in the mainstream. The study applied a gender perspective
to development as well as in-depth and focus group interviews with purposively
sampled stakeholders. The findings of the study shed light on the adopted tailoring
model of gender equality by the institutions and how the model blinkered the other
qualitative gender dimensions of the mainstream, rendering the envisaged goal of
gender equality elusive due to the exclusion of the students from the mainstream.
Based on the findings, useful recommendations are made to resuscitate the almost
paralysed gender equality agenda of the institutions.