Women in Leadership :an intersectional analysis of age, race, ethnicity and gender in one South African national institution

Van Heek, Anneke Margo
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This study examines the experiences of women in leadership at the NRF. This is done within the context of gender inequality in leadership in organisations, and seeks to use the experiences of women in leadership to address gender inequality within the NRF. This study also explores the intersectionality of age, race, ethnicity and gender. Eight women in leadership roles at the NRF were interviewed. They varied in terms of race, ethnicity, age and level of leadership. Critical discourse analysis, critical diversity literacy and poststructuralist feminism were used to analyse the data. The analysis focuses on both the challenges the women leaders experience, and the enabling factors and ways they navigate these challenges. The challenges they experience within the organisation are related to “masculine” views on leadership, a masculine and hierarchical organisational culture, ageism, academicism, lack of networking opportunities, motherhood and work-home balance, stereotyping, and the sense of not belonging due to various and intersecting social identities. Enabling factors include awareness, taking responsibility, viewing diversity as fairness, legal advantages, “feminine” views on leadership, changing the organisational culture, expressing emotions, mentoring and networking, advancing others, and challenging stereotypes. The central issue is that the NRF has a masculine culture that expresses itself in various ways and prevents gender equality. Addressing these organisational culture issues may lead to more equality, not only in terms of gender, but also in terms of race, age, disability and level of education. Recommendations for equality are made.
This thesis has been approved for the degree of Master of Arts by Coursework and Research Report in Diversity Studies by the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2019