The challenges faced by African women in management : a case of the National Research Foundation.
Nxumalo, Mbalenhle Mandisa.
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At the dawn of the new South Africa (SA), the introduction of many policies and strategies that included new employment and labour laws aimed at transforming the country resulted in an increased number of African women employed in all sectors of the economy. Since the new dispensation, supporting policies and laws, more and more black women have taken up management positions in various organisations. However, there are not sufficient women in management. Those that aspire to management positions and or are already in management continue to face several challenges. If SA is to fast track its transformation agenda with even more women taking up management positions and rising through the ranks, it is important to understand and address the challenges and or barriers that they face as managers, and of course to propose solutions to these challenges. The main objectives for this study were to investigate the barriers that prevent African women from entering into management, and to investigate the challenges they encounter once they are in these positions. To address this problem, an exploratory and case study approach was used. An interview based survey was conducted with eleven out of fifteen African women managers at the National Research Foundation (NRF), the remaining four were not available for the interviews. Before the interviews, the researcher firstly discussed the motivation for the study with the aim of ensuring clarity and understanding. Due to the fact that the study was exploratory, data was collected using qualitative method. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. The findings of this study supported the assumption that there are barriers that prevent African women from occupying managerial positions. These barriers include; the perceived unwillingness of the organisation to promote diversity in the workplace, the ‘think manager-think male’ stereotype, the issue of not having enough qualifications and skills, conflicting roles, glass ceiling and the SA history of apartheid and patriarchy. It was also revealed that once African women finally progress to these positions they face challenges; they are not acknowledged and respected as their male counter parts. African women sometimes find it difficult to maintain balance between responsibilities at work and at home. The abovementioned findings imply that African women are still underrepresented at management level. The existing literature attempted to compare the experiences of African women and white women management and discovered that their experiences are not the same.