Exploring the experiences of women in leadership positions in Western Cape technical and vocational education and training colleges through a narrative approach

Bonzet, René (2017-03)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2017

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill (B 50B of 2013) states that 50% of those in decision-making structures should be women (RSA, 2013:15) for global alignment. In 2014, the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Research Agenda described the higher education staff gender structure as unequal. White male academics dominated key areas, and the management of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges needed to be transformed. Hence, this study set out to answer the question: what do the narratives of women currently in leadership positions in TVET colleges in the Western Cape Province of South Africa tell us about gender transformation (or the lack thereof) in this sector? The interest in this topic was informed by the dearth of women in leadership in these colleges despite the above-mentioned legislation. Within the interpretivist paradigm, this study provided an insider perspective on women leaders’ shared gender transformation experiences through a narrative methodology, by means of an interpretation of ten purposively chosen respondents’ lived and told stories. The data corpus comprised digitally voice recorded in-depth interviews, trans-cribed verbatim and interpreted by means of a conceptual framework. Based on an outline of related literature, the conceptual framework illuminated themes to encapsul-ate gendered experiences of women in leadership. The data demonstrated that the respondents’ experiences during their career as women leaders could be linked to these themes, namely the family roles and a professional career balance, three stages in becoming a leader, demographic influences, gender-related notions such as gender stereotyping and challenges, leadership processes and contexts, and strategies and initiatives to deal with gendered experiences. The analytical framework illustrated how these themes were reconciled with a structured method of narrative analysis, namely a problem-solution approach, where raw data was also analysed in terms of five elements of plot structure, namely characters, setting, problem, actions and resolutions. Thus, aligning the conceptual framework with the analytical framework facilitated restorying within the bounds of a plot-structured narrative. The results showed progress towards gender transformation regarding career progression of women leaders in TVET colleges during the past two decades. Conversely, progress in terms of gender stereotyping, and men-to-women and women-to-women discrimination, was unsatisfactory and caused some women to abandon their ambitions, which may have compounded the problem of under-representation of women amongst the pool of aspiring college principals. The small sample size in this study precludes any claim that the conclusions refer to all women in leadership roles in the South African TVET sector. Regarding the broader significance of this narrative study, there is still a great deal to be done based on gender transformation interventions to inform, sensitise, empower, and transform men and women leaders at key stages of their career pathways. Behind the reported narratives are the untold stories of many more men and women leaders in the South African vocational education sector, providing much scope for further research. This study therefore only serves as a point of departure in addressing all-inclusive gender transformation to the advantage of women and men in TVET college leadership.

Die Vroue Bemagtiging en Geslagsgelykheidswet (B 50B van 2013) vereis dat 50% van diegene in besluitnemingstrukture vroue behoort te wees (Republiek van Suid-Afrika, 2013:15) om in lyn te kom met internasionale ooreenkomste. Die Navorsings-agenda van die Suid-Afrikaanse Departement van Hoëronderwys en Opleiding het die hoëronderwyspersoneelstruktuur in 2014 as ongelyk beskryf. Wit manlike akademici het sleutelareas gedomineer en die bestuur van tegniese en beroepsgerigte onder-wys-en-opleidingskolleges moes getransformeer word. Hierdie studie het dus ten doel gehad om die volgende vraag te beantwoord: Wat vertel die narratiewe van vroue, wat tans in leierskapsposisies in TVET-kolleges in die Wes-Kaapprovinsie van Suid-Afrika is, vir ons oor gendertransformasie (of die gebrek daaraan) in die TVET-sektor? Die belangstelling in hierdie onderwerp is aangevuur deur die swak verteenwoordiging van vroueleiers in hierdie kolleges ten spyte van bogenoemde wetgewing. Binne die interpretatiewe paradigma, gee die studie ‘n binnekringperspektief op vroue- leiers se meegedeelde gendertransformasie-ervaringe. Deur middel van ‘n narratiewe metodologie word tien doelgerig-verkose respondente se geleefde en vertelde stories geïnterpreteer. Die datakorpus het bestaan uit digitale stemopnames van in-diepte onderhoude, woordeliks getranskribeer en geïnterpreteer met behulp van ‘n konsepsuele raamwerk. Temas, gebaseer op ‘n oorsig van verwante literatuur wat lig werp op genderervaringe van vroue in leierskap, is geïdentifiseer en in die konseptuele raamwerk vervat. Die data demonstreer dat die respondente se ervaringe tydens hulle beroep as vroueleiers gekoppel kan word aan hierdie temas, naamlik die balans tussen gesinsrolle en ‘n professionele beroep, die drie fases op hulle pad na leierskap, demografiese invloede, genderverwante begrippe soos gender-stereotipering en uitdagings, leierskapsprosesse en kontekste, en strategieë en inisiatiewe om genderervaringe te kan hanteer. Die analitiese raamwerk illustreer hoe hierdie temas in ooreenstemming gebring is met ‘n gestruktureerde metode van narratiewe analisering, naamlik ‘n probleemoplos-singsbenadering, waar rou data ook geanaliseer was in terme van vyf elemente van ‘n plotstruktuur, naamlik karakters, agtergrond, probleem, aksies en oplossings. Dus, deur die konsepsuele raamwerk met die analitiese raamwerk te belyn, is die skryf van ‘n nuwe storie binne die grense van ‘n plotgestruktureerde narratief vergemaklik. Die resultate dui op gendertransformasievooruitgang met betrekking tot beroeps-vordering van vroueleiers in TVET-kolleges gedurende die afgelope twee dekades. Daarteenoor, was vooruitgang ten opsigte van genderstereotipering, en man-tot-vrou én vrou-tot-vrou benadeling onvoldoende, wat sommige vroue genoop het om hulle ambisies te laat vaar en sodoende die vrouetekort in die leierskapspoel moontlik nog meer laat vererger het. As gevolg van die beperkte steekproefgrootte van die studie is enige aanspraak dat die afleidings verwys na alle vroue in leierskaprolle in TVET, uitgesluit. Betreffende die breër betekenisvolheid van hierdie narratiewe studie, is daar steeds beduidende ruimte vir verbetering gebaseer op gendertransformasie-ingryping om te verwittig, te sensitiseer, te bemagtig en mans- én vroueleiers tydens sleutelstadiums van hulle loopbane te transformeer. Agter die meegedeelde narratiewe is die onvertelde stories van nog vele mans- en vroueleiers in die Suid-Afrikaanse beroepsgerigte onderwyssektor, met heelwat moontlikhede vir verdere navorsing. Hierdie studie dien dus net as ‘n vertrekpunt om alomvattende gendertransformasie aan te spreek tot die voordeel van vroue en mans in TVET-kollege leierskap.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100804
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