Perceived barriers to career advancement of black women in an IT organisation

Meko, Letlhogonolo
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This research report aimed to identify those barriers that are perceived to be impeding the advancement of the black career woman at one IT organisation in South Africa. These barriers have been identified as restricting the benefits of tools such as diversity that will never be fully realised at workplaces if these barriers remain unresolved. Black career women in South Africa are a unique group to study as they come from a very disadvantaged background where society expectations and perspectives did not make it any easier. It is only now after apartheid that they are steadily being absorbed into the mainstream of the economy. However, apartheid remnants are not making the process any easier. The study identified a plethora of barriers faced by black career women at Microsoft which they easily lumped together as the ‘glass ceiling’. Most black career women at Microsoft have accepted the fact that nothing was going to change and were performing at that bare minimum level to keep their jobs. Causes of the barriers were also identified and this led to recommendations and conclusions made in the last chapter of this study. A themed content analysis was conducted on the responses using qualitative methodology. A balanced perspective was given by the respondents, and themes drawn. The findings and themes drawn from respondents led to a list of 7 pragmatic conclusions and 4 recommendations. The research findings included the fact that black career women did not view their barriers unilaterally as identified in literature; that the glass ceiling was the most challenging barrier to their career, as well as the most laden with other barriers that they may not fully explain, followed by lack of mentors and then organisational structural factor; and that goals and visions of young black women needed to be aligned with those of Microsoft in order for barriers to be overcome. The key message from this research study is that top management need to consider alienating barriers that affect black career women in their organisation from those affecting all other employees in order to be able to deal with them more effectively.
Sex discrimination against women -- South Africa.Women, Black -- Employment -- South Africa.