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An exploration of black South African women’s negotiation of their racial and gender identities in predominantly white workspaces.

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South Africa has continued to be divided along racial, gender, and class lines, even since the introduction of democracy. This has resulted in many black African women being marginalised and oppressed at work and in society. A fundamental component of decent work is equal opportunity and treatment in the labour market. Sadly, additional barriers still prevent women from accessing the workforce in South Africa and elsewhere. Once employed, black women continue to face difficulties. This paper explores how black South African women negotiate their gender and racial identities while working in predominantly white work places. The Identity Negotiation Theory (INT) provides the theoretical basis for this study and allows the researcher to explore participants’ interactions with co-workers and their professional activities in white-dominated workplaces. The study uses an interpretive paradigm-based, qualitative study methodology. The participants in the study were seven black South African women with workplace experience ranging from one year to eight years. The findings of this investigation significantly show the negative experiences black women undergo in predominantly white work spaces. The findings of this study may be used to create intervention programmes that encourage black women who want to join the changing workforce to feel good about themselves and to succeed professionally and personally.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.