My PhD research focused on strategies that 20 South African women, from different racial and class backgrounds, with MBA (Master of Business Administration) qualifications employed in order to gain and retain top management positions in Gauteng (South Africa). The problem statement of the study emphasised that about 43.9 % of South Africa’s women are currently active in the labour market, 21.4% are employed as women executive managers, 17.1% are women directors and 9.1% are women CEOs and Board chairs (Dormehl, 2012:7). It is clear that women in top management are a minority within a minority and I hope that my study could help to address this problem. If South Africa is truly concerned with transformation and equality then surely there shouldn’t be such a large gap between males and females in top management positions. This particular paper will discuss the strategies that these women employed in order to integrate their work and life responsibilities in order to maintain their current positions. This study can potentially serve to educate employers on how to provide more support to individuals who have responsibilities outside of their paid work. The image of the “ideal worker” as someone who is without responsibilities and who is fully committed to only the employer’s needs (Lewis, Gambles & Rapoport 2007: 365) should actively be challenged, since it often ignores the realities that employees are faced with on a daily basis, for example, child care, caring for elderly parents or siblings, community engagement and responsibilities, to name but a few.
Dormehl, A. 2012. BWA South African Women in Leadership Census 2012. Management Today, 30(7): 7-11.
Lewis, S, Gambles, R and Rapoport, R. 2007. The constraints of a 'work-life balance' approach: in international perspective. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(3): 360-73.