Its not a womans job : an exploration of the gendered nature of employment in the South African private security industry

Tennant, Jade Lancaster (2020-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Private security provision is a career which has traditionally been associated with men and regarded as a masculine occupation. Since the adoption of the UN resolution 1325 there has been an effort to address issues of gender inequality in the security sectors, such as the police and the military, both internationally and in South Africa (Mobekk, 2010:278). However, gender statistics of the South Africa private security industry (PSI) suggest that the industry lags in terms of gender equality and the implementation of gender mainstreaming goals. While there exists a large body of literature pertaining to gender in public security institutions, such as the police and the military, there is little literature focusing on the PSI. In this study I aim to address this gap by exploring the gendered nature of employment in the South African PSI and the possible barriers women might face when working and seeking employment in this industry. As little literature exists on this topic, semi-structured interviews with employees of four private security companies, operating in Cape Town, were my main source of data. A critical qualitative approach and research design was utilised to examine why these companies employ so few women. The interview guides were framed around two broad issues, namely the attitude towards and experiences of women working in the PSI and the barriers women face when working and seeking work in the PSI. Document analysis of several PSiRA annual reports, and observations were also utilised to achieve triangulation. The conclusion reached is that employment, and employment practices, within the South African PSI are highly gendered, and women routinely experience exclusion and discrimination within this sector. The industry is characterised by a masculine organisational culture and a division of labour that reflects essentialist and patriarchal attitudes towards sex and gender, in terms of the abilities and capabilities of men and women. Consequences include that women struggle to find employment within the PSI, a high employer in a country beset with unemployment and poverty. Furthermore, women’s minority status in this industry means that they are unlikely to shift problematic perceptions of women in security roles, despite the fact that academics suggest that they have a unique contribution to make in such roles (Lopes, 2011:15; Mobekk, 2010:281). Challenges to women’s inclusion are the persisting patriarchal rhetoric at a societal level, sexual harassment in the workplace and the weak regulation of equal employment legislation within the industry. Therefore, until such a time that the industry undergoes transformation in terms of occupational culture, and employment equality is prioritised, women are likely to remain underrepresented in the South African PSI.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Tradisioneel is private sekuriteitsvoorsiening geassosieer met mans en as ’n manlike beroep gesien. Sedert die aanneming van die VV resolusie 1325 was daar ’n daadwerklike poging gemaak om probleme rondom ongelykheid in die sekuriteits sektore soos byvoorbeeld die polisie en die militêr aan te spreek, beide in Suid Afrika en internasionaal (Mobekk, 2010: 278). Statistiek rondom geslagsgelykheid in die Privaat Sekuriteits Industrie wys daarop dat die industrie agterweë gebly het m.b.t. geslagsgelykheid en die implimentering van hoofstroom geslagsgelykheid doelwitte. Terwyl daar baie literatuur ten opsigte van geslagsgelykheid in openbare sekuriteits instansies soos byvoorbeld die polisie en die militêr bestaan, is daar min inligting ten opsigte van die PSI. Ek beoog om hierdie tekortkoming aan te spreek in hierdie studie en om sodoende moontlike struikelblokke ten opsigte van geslagsdiskriminering te bepaal wat vroue mag ervaar wanneer hulle aansoek doen om ’n betrekking in hierdie industrie. Aangesien min inligting bestaan oor hierdie onderwerp, was my hoofbron van inligting onderhoude met werknemers van vier privaat sekuriteits firmas in Kaapstad. ’n Kritiese kwalitatiewe aanslag en navorsingsontwerp is gebruik om te bepaal hoekom hierdie firmas so min vroue in diens neem. Die onderhoude is gestruktureer rondom twee hooftrekke, naamlik die houding teenoor en die ervarings van vroue in die PSI en die hindernisse wat vroue ervaar wanneer hulle werk of werk soek in die PSI. ’n Gedokumenteerde analise van verskeie PSiRA jaarverslae en waarnemings is ook gebruik om triangulering te bewerkstellig. Die gevolgtrekking wat bereik is, is dat werkgewing en werkgewings praktyke binne die Suid Afrikaanse PSI hoogs geslagsdiskriminerend is en dat vroue gereeld uitsluiting en diskriminasie ervaar in hierdie sector. Die bedryf word gekarakteriseer deur ’n manlikegeoriënteerde kultuur en ’n werksverdeling wat essentialistiese en patriargale houdings teenoor geslag in terme van werksverdeling met verwysing na die bevoegdhede/ bekwaamhede en vermoëns van mans en vroue. Die gevolge is dat vroue sukkel om betrekkings te kry binne die PSI - ’n groot werkskepper in ’n land met soveel armoede en werkloosheid soos Suid Afrika. Die ondergeskikte status van vroue in die industrie beteken dat dit onwaarskynlik is dat hulle daarin sal slaag om persepsies aangaande vroue in die PSI sal verander, ten spyte van die feit dat akademisie voorgestel het dat hulle ’n unieke bydrae kan maak in sulke rolle (Lopes, 2011: 15; Mobekk, 2010: 281). Uitdagings met betrekking tot vroue se insluiting, is die voortdurende patriargale retoriek, seksuele teistering in die werkplek en die swak regulering van gelykheid ten opsigte van diensneming in die industrie. Om hierdie redes sal vroue voortdurend onderverteenwoordig wees in die PSI totdat daar ’n daadwerklike transformasie ten opsigte van werkskultuur en gelykheid ten opsigte van indiensneming plaasvind.

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