GENDER AND MANAGEMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

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Prior research on Indian women in organisations

Most organisational studies relating to identity have focused on gender identity, ignoring the intersection between the many identities that women possess (Settles, 2006). This has often led to overly simplistic analyses of women managers’ lives, ignoring the complex web of intersecting identities that form part of their self-concepts (Acker, 2006; Kenny & Briner, 2007). In the last decade, some attention has finally been paid to women’s multiple identities in the workplace and to how these identities intersect to form unique experiences for women who are different from each other (Collins, 2000; hooks, 2000). Much of this research has been done on women managers and professionals in the United States (Bell & Nkomo, 2001; Byrd, 2008; Ely & Thomas, 2001; Holvino, 2010; Settles, 2006). Some studies have also been conducted in the United Kingdom (Adib & Guerrier, 2003; Atewologun & Singh, 2010; Fearfull & Kamenou, 2006; Healy, Bradley, & Forson, 2011; Leathwood, 2005; Priola, 2004).

Critique of a situation-centred approach

Ely and Padavic (2007) found in their analysis of studies relating to gender and situational factors (for example, power, characteristics of negotiation positions, having same-sex networks, formal workplace roles, importance and closeness of networks, extent of cross-sex contact and income and occupational levels) that if situational factors are the focus, gender is discounted, and if gender is salient, then the complex nature of organisations is overlooked. These authors give the example of power and gender. They argue that when studies focus on the management levels at which men and women operate, and remove the influence of power and separate the influence of gender, such studies do not take into account that gender and power are joined. Ely and Padavic (2007) also argue that since gender is part of these situational factors, men and women do not react in the same manner, as they are confronted with different elements in these situations. Researchers also often fail to notice that processes in organisations are not gender-neutral.

Theory relating to a gender-organisation-system approach

According to Fagenson (1993), the gender-organisation-system (GOS) perspective operates on two assumptions. These are, firstly, that organisations or individuals cannot be understood apart from the culture or society in which they are embedded (Crow, 1998; Yukongdi & Benson, 2005). Secondly, a change in individuals, organisations and systems leads to simultaneous change in other aspects, such as sex-role stereotypes, expectations, ideologies and values (Crow, 1998; Yukongdi & Benson, 2005). Individuals, organisations and social systems change at different rates in response to environmental changes, and therefore, women in different countries have not progressed into managerial positions at the same pace (Yukongdi & Benson, 2005). The focus is on the status and experiences of women and men in organisations, together with the organisational and social systems in which they function (S. Valentine, 2001).

Critique of a gender-organisation-system approach

Before discussing the criticism of the gender-organisation-system theory, I would like to mention the contribution of this theory. Hartl (2003) argues that this theory highlights entrenched beliefs relating to gender in the manner in which organisations are viewed in research and practice. The genderorganisation-system perspective confronts these definitions of reality and highlights that many of them are a result of gendered assumptions of the wider social context, rather than being objective descriptions of management. One critique of person-centred, situation-centred and gender-organisationsystem perspectives is that they neglect the intersection of race and gender in organisational studies (Bell & Nkomo, 2001; Booysen & Nkomo, 2010; Essed, 1991; Greenman & Xie, 2008; Holvino, 2010). The assumption is that gender is the same across all groups of women. However, race, class and gender are experienced differently by ethnic minority women than by their white female counterparts in organisations. A better understanding of power is needed in order to grasp the role of senior managers in reinforcing or shattering the glass ceiling.

Theory relating to the intergroup perspective

Ragins (1997) points out that from a sociological perspective the term “minority” is defined in terms of power relations between groups and not necessarily numerical representation. Thus, in South Africa, although blacks are in the majority, if they do not have power in organisations – despite their greater numbers, they are still regarded as a minority group. The intergroup perspective provides a basic lens for understanding race and gender dynamics within an organisation. In relation to this point, Aldefer (1987) posits that the extent of power that different cultural groups wield within organisations and the macro-environment determines how people behave, think and act in organisations. According to the intergroup perspective, two types of groups exist within organisations, namely identity groups and organisation groups (Alderfer & Smith, 1982). Identity groups are based on gender, age, race, ethnicity and family. An organisation group is when members share approximately common organisational positions, take part in equivalent work experiences and have similar organisational views (Akande, 1994).

Studies relating to the bicultural framework

It is important to note that the bicultural model has primarily been used to explain the experiences of African-American women in management. Bell (1990) conducted a study on 71 black females relating to their life experiences. The results of the study indicated that black women were living between two cultural worlds, the one white and the other black. In order to manage their bicultural worlds, the women grouped different elements of their lives. The results indicated that in order to be comfortable in both worlds the women had to deal with complex life structures.

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Feminist theories on women in organisations

According to Usar (2010), prior to the 1980s, feminist theories and research in organisations operated in distinct spheres. While the focus of organisational research dealt with solving the problems of males in organisations, feminist theories focused on patriarchal forces in the social lives of women (Calás & Smircich, 2003). This has changed in recent years. Feminists regard gender as a socially constructed category and focus on understanding the dynamics of gender relations by addressing race, class, sexual orientation, language and the practices and politics of educational systems facing marginalised groups (Howell, Carter, & Schied, 2002). Gender creates social differences between men and women that go beyond physiological differences (Browne & Misra, 2003).

Radical feminist theory

Unlike in liberal feminist theory, the subordination of women due to patriarchy is the focus of radical feminist theory (Oakley, 2000). The differences between men and women are positioned in such a way that men have more control socially, economically, politically and in the workplace, while women posses less power (Greer & Greene, 2003).

CONTENTS :

  • DECLARATION
  • DEDICATION
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • ABSTRACT
  • CHAPTER 1: CONTEXTUALISING THE STUDY
    • 1.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
    • 1.3 PURPOSE STATEMENT
    • 1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
    • 1.5 BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH
      • 1.5.1 Prior research on Indian women in organisations
      • 1.5.2 Historical context
      • 1.5.3 Reforms in legislation
      • 1.5.4 Statistics on Indian women in management
    • 1.6 METHODOLOGY
    • 1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
    • 1.8 LIMITATIONS AND SCOPE
    • 1.9 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
    • 1.10 OVERVIEW OF THE REMAINDER OF THE STUDY
    • 1.11 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 2: THE HISTORICAL AND LEGISLATIVE CONTEXT
    • 2.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 2.2 HISTORY OF SOUTH AFRICA
      • 2.2.1 Arrival of the Dutch
      • 2.2.2 The Cape under British rule
      • 2.2.3 The Voortrekkers/Boers and British in Natal
      • 2.2.4 The Voortrekkers/Boers in the Transvaal
      • 2.2.5 Diamond mines in South Africa
      • 2.2.6 Establishment of separate townships
    • 2.3 ARRIVAL OF INDIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 2.3.1 Indentured labourers
      • 2.3.2 Arrival of Indian women
      • 2.3.3 Passenger Indians
      • 2.3.4 Culture, caste, class and language
      • 2.3.5 Indians’ position under colonialism
    • 2.4 STATUS OF INDIANS UNDER APARTHEID
    • 2.4.1 Population Registration Act of
    • 2.4.2 Mixed Marriages Act of
    • 2.4.3 Group Areas Act
    • 2.4.4 Aliens Control Act
    • 2.4.5 The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act
    • 2.4.6 The Indian Education Act
    • 2.4.7 The Extension of University Education Act
    • 2.4.8 Job Reservation Act
    • 2.4.9 The demise of apartheid
    • 2.5 THE POST-APARTHEID STATUS OF INDIANS
    • 2.5.1 Constitution of South Africa, Act 108 of
    • 2.5.2 The Employment Equity Act and its implications for Indians
    • 2.5.3 Gender equality in post-apartheid South Africa
    • 2.6 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 3: GENDER AND MANAGEMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
    • 3.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 3.2 THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES
    • 3.3 INTERSECTIONALITY
    • 3.3.1 History of intersectionality
    • 3.3.2 Various views of intersectionality
    • 3.3.3 The complex nature of intersectionality
    • 3.3.4 Intersectionality in organisations
    • 3.4 IDENTITY
      • 3.4.1 Early identity theories
      • 3.4.2 Social identities
      • 3.4.3 Identity work
      • 3.4.4 Hybrid identity
    • 3.5 WOMEN-IN-MANAGEMENT RESEARCH IN SOUTH AFRICA
    • 3.6 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
    • 4.1 WHAT IS A RESEARCH DESIGN?
    • 4.2 RESEARCH APPROACH
    • 4.2.1 Metatheory
    • 4.3 KEY SCIENTIFIC BELIEFS
    • 4.3.1 Ontological position
    • 4.3.2 Epistemological position
    • 4.4 RESEARCH STRATEGY – THE QUALITATIVE METHOD
    • 4.4.1 The qualitative research method
    • 4.4.2 Researcher’s role in the study
    • 4.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
    • 4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS APPLICABLE TO THE STUDY
    • 4.7 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 5: UNPACKING CHILDHOOD IDENTITY THEMES
    • 5.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 5.2 THE WOMEN’S EARLY LIVES
    • 5.2.1 Historical context – apartheid
    • 5.2.2 Socialization through Indian culture
    • 5.2.3 The family’s role in the socialization process
    • 5.3 METAPHOR OF A CAGED BIRD
      • 5.3.1 Features of a bird cage
      • 5.3.2 Characteristics of a bird
    • 5.4 IDENTITY
      • 5.4.1 Awareness of unfair treatment
      • 5.4.2 Internalizing some elements of subordination
      • 5.4.3 Building resistance against subordination
    • 5.5 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 6: STRUGGLING FOR IDENTITY IN THE CORPORATE CAGE
    • 6.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 6.2 INDIVIDUAL BARRIERS TO ADVANCEMENT
      • 6.2.1 Lack of career planning
      • 6.2.2 Passivity and submissiveness
      • 6.2.3 Respect for elders and authority
      • 6.2.4 Conflict avoidance
      • 6.2.5 Discomfort working with males
      • 6.2.6 Poor social networking skills
      • 6.2.7 Lack of political skills
      • 6.2.8 Husbands’ careers take precedence
      • 6.2.9 Lack of exposure to business
    • 6.3 ORGANISATIONAL BARRIERS
    • 6.4 INDIVIDUAL FACTORS THAT ENHANCED THE PARTICIPANTS’ PROGRESS
      • 6.4.1 High motivation
      • 6.4.2 Outsourcing domestic chores and childcare
      • 6.4.3 Supportive husbands
      • 6.4.4 High levels of self-efficacy
      • 6.4.5 Willingness to relocate
      • 6.4.6 Working on diverse projects
      • 6.4.7 Developing persuasion skills
      • 6.4.8 Becoming assertive
      • 6.4.9 Handling conflict
      • 6.4.10 Working closely with males
    • 6.5 CONTINUING THE CAGED BIRD METAPHOR
      • 6.5.1 Intruders
      • 6.5.2 Perching on mountain tops
    • 6.6 IDENTITY
      • 6.6.1 Perceived inequity in organisations
      • 6.6.2 Fitting into the majority culture
      • 6.6.3 Commitment to the organisation
    • 6.7 HYBRID IDENTITIES
    • 6.8 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 7: DISCUSSION – WORKING AND REWORKING IDENTITIES
    • 7.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 7.2 IDENTITY AND IDENTITY WORK
    • 7.3 THE INFLUENCE OF INDIAN CULTURE ON TH PARTICIPANTS’ IDENTITIES
    • 7.4 IDENTITY WORK IN THE WOMEN’S EARLY LIVES
    • 7.5 IDENTITY WORK IN THE PARTICIPANTS’ ADULT LIVES
    • 7.6 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
    • 8.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 8.2 CONTRIBUTION OF THE RESEARCH
    • 8.3 STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
    • 8.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
    • 8.5 CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER 9: REFLECTIONS ON MY RESEARCH JOURNEY
    • 9.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 9.2 REFLEXIVITY
    • 9.3 MY STORY
    • 9.4 MY REFLECTIVE JOURNAL
    • 9.5 INSIDER VIEW
    • 9.6 REFLECTIONS ON THE ANALYSIS OF THE WOMEN’S LIFE STORIES
    • 9.7 CONCLUDING REMARK
  • REFERENCES
    • ANNEXURE A: FIRST-LEVEL CODING FROM ATLAS.TI
    • ANNEXURE B: DESCRIPTION OF THE WOMEN IN THE STUDY
    • ANNEXURE C: EXAMPLES OF INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
    • ANNEXURE D: CONSENT LETTER

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“WHO AM I?”- SOUTH AFRICAN INDIAN WOMEN MANAGERS’ STRUGGLE FOR IDENTITY: ESCAPING THE UBIQUITOUS CAGE

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