Women in management : perceptions of eight women in the Kwazulu-Natal department of education.
Nair, Charmaine Magdalene.
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In South Africa, one site where women in management are most underrepresented is educational management Equal opportunity for women as a political objective is entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. A gendered shift in educational management is an emerging phenomenon in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. This study explored the experiences of eight women holding education management positions in one region in the province of KwaZulu-Natal through a qualitative case study approach. The research method was the semi-structured interview. The aim was to examine the reasons they entered management, the routes that led them to acquiring the positions, the management strategies they employed, their experiences in a male dominated environment, and their views on the issue of gender equity in educational management. The findings revealed that most of the women had a motivation and drive to progress through the ranks in the profession and enter management positions. This drive appears to be linked to early socialisation of the women and the development of an autonomous, self-controlling identity. In their perceptions of their experiences as managers, findings suggest a high degree effectiveness amongst the women managers evident in the value they place on management strategies such as effective listening and communication, building trust, people centred approaches, team building, and networking. However, participants in the study all alluded to the fact that they still had to deal with the gendered dynamics of organisational life. Men's dominance in educational management and the numerical marginalisation of women remains a hurdle. No matter how career oriented and motivated women may be, they still have to engage with the constant immersion in a masculinist work culture. The findings suggest that the women have to constantly prove their worth, deal with gender stereotyping, and negotiate their private and public roles. All the women in the study suggested the need for women to build networks of support, and for creating more inclusive organisational cultures that reflect a commitment to gender equity.