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Women's representation in public enterprises in Pietermaritzburg.

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A democratic ―tsunami‖ is moving around the world, nations are embracing democracy which brings power to the people and enables their voices to be heard. South Africa has one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world which contains the Bill of Rights where equality is preached. The Grant Thornton International Business Report on Women in Management (2012) rightly concludes that women occupy only 21% of top managerial positions, worldwide. In South Africa, women occupy only 28%, which is slightly more than the international average. In light of the above information, this study looks at women‘s representation in business, with special emphasis on the challenges faced by women at top management level in public enterprises in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The inference deduced from the above statistics unveils that women are underrepresented at top management level. Several authors have viewed the challenges faced by women in top level managerial positions from different perspectives and the core challenges this study has identified are as follows: the ‗glass ceiling‘; balancing work and family responsibilities; organisational culture; human resource policies; politics of power and the ‗Queen Bee Syndrome‘. This study has unveiled a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by women employed in top level managerial positions, useful in enabling women at this level to overcome their challenges and thereby assist them to function to their utmost capacity, while at the same time attempting to increase women‘s representation at top management level. The researcher adopted a mixed method of data collection in carrying out this study. In-depth interviews were carried out with respondents; the insight gained in these interviews assisted the researcher to carry out further telephonic interviews with other respondents and lastly; questionnaires were employed to complement other sources of data collection in the study. These findings of the study show that the ills of Apartheid could be responsible for the lack of self-confidence of black women holding top level managerial positions. In the researcher‘s point of view, the Bantu system of education did not provide a sound foundation of quality education for the black women of Pietermaritzburg. In conclusion, the thesis argues that, since women constitute a significant proportion of the economically active population in South Africa, it is fair only that they should be equitably represented at top managerial level. To achieve this goal, the study proffered a recommendation which has managerial benefits that may assist in accelerating and increasing women‘s representation at top management level.


Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2013.


Businesswomen--KwaZulu-Natal--Pietermaritzburg., Women executives--KwaZulu-Natal--Pietermaritzburg., Government business enterprises--KwaZulu-Natal--Pietermaritzburg., Theses--Management.