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Uncovering the intersection between race and gender of the experiences of female engineers.

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The purpose of the current study is to examine the complexities that female engineers experience in a male dominated industry. These complexities are compounded further when the element of race is intertwined with their gender. A review of the current literature notes the influence that gendered constructions have on society and therefore, perpetuates into the choices that men and women have based on their gender, especially in terms of appropriate career choices. The research focuses on social constructionism and intersectionality as a theoretical framework. As the study aims to understand the experiences of the female engineers and how their race intersects with their gender, a qualitative analysis was conducted, as it was the most appropriate for the study. Hence, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine employed female engineers from various companies and engineering sectors. The semi-structured interviews took place from May 2017 to June 2017. A thematic analysis was conducted on the interviews, which formed three focal themes, viz. Negotiating Multiple Identities; The Two Extremes and Proving Yourself. The nature of the identities in which the participants narrate can be seen as an act of intersection of the various identities, which the participants acknowledged in their narratives. The various identities are viewed as manifestations that form from the social interactions in which the participants immerse themselves in. In addition, the women would note ‘subtle issues’ that would arise in the engineering workplace, which differentiated the women from the men, however, would not acknowledge the severity of the inequality that perpetuated from the differentiation. However, many of the women would acknowledge the positive experiences they have had as a female engineer and were therefore treated as an engineer and not a female engineer.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.