Nurses’ views on promotion and the influence of race, class and gender in relation to the Employment Equity Act

Van der Heever, Mariana M. ; Van der Merwe, Anita S. ; Crowley, Talitha (2019)

CITATION: Van Der Heever, M. M., Van Der Merwe, A. S. & Crowley, T. 2019. Nurses’ views on promotion and the influence of race, class and gender in relation to the Employment Equity Act. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 45(0):a1611, doi:10.4102/sajip.v45i0.1611.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund


Orientation: Regardless of the implementation of the Employment Equity Act (EEA), No. 55 of 1998 and the abolishment of apartheid in 1994, African and mixed-race females are under-represented in managerial positions in the public sector of the Western Cape (WC) in South Africa and nationally in the private health sector. Research purpose: The purpose was to explore the views of nurses about promotion to managerial positions in view of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) and the possible influence of race, class and gender. Motivation for the study: South Africa has a history of racial hierarchies and gender inequities. It was therefore important to explore the influence of the EEA and race, class and gender on the promotion of nurses in the post-apartheid context. Research approach/design and method: A cross-sectional descriptive survey design was completed. Six hundred and eighty-eight (n = 688) nurses consented to participate and 573 (83%) questionnaires were returned. Main findings: Race as a social construct surfaced in the superior viewing of white and the inferior viewing of African nurses. Mixed-race and white nurses seemed disgruntled with the EEA because of the benefits it holds for African nurses. African nurses seemed angered by their under-representation in managerial positions in the private and public sectors in the WC. White nurses seemed convinced that African, mixed-race and Indian nurses experience upward mobility. Mixed-race nurses (public sector WC) showed concerns about the career successes of males in a female-dominated profession. Practical/managerial implications: Managerial structures should be required to invest in diversity training, create awareness of the noble intentions of the EEA and communicate the relevance of employment equity plans. Contribution/value-add: The findings provided evidence that reflected a need for diversity training and the creation of awareness about the longstanding influence of racial and gender hierarchies.

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