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Abstract

In South Africa, there is an underrepresentation of women in senior management positions and industries requiring “masculine”-typed duties. The study aimed to explore the gendered narratives relating to women in the Information Technology (IT) Department of a South African organisation using a feminist interpretivist framework. A qualitative design informed by feminist methodology and narrative inquiry outlined by Gilligan et al. (2003) was used for this study. Two females and four male participants participated in the study and data collection involved in-depth semi-structured interviews. The Gillian et al. (2003) approach of data analysis was used (Listening Guide). The listening guide assisted in uncovering positive and negative voices as participants spoke about their work experiences. The different voices represented in the organisation ranged from frustration, blame, resentment, silence and optimism. All of these voices represent the types of gendered narratives in the workplace of the participants. The relationships that exist among the voices are work, family and career advancement. The paper highlights that there is an expectation to perform according to the gendered script of men performing masculine tasks and women performing feminine tasks. There is a tendency to view women in the organisation as the mothers of the organisation, which reinforces the gendered script. Women who do not conform to this script may encounter social sanctions in the workplace. Gender roles should not be seen as binary in the workplace but as different and welcome versions of it. Furthermore, the current policies in the workplace are meant to bring transformation (more women, specifically of colour), but instead, there is more frustration and resentment as these policies do not emphasise the skills and merit for employment and are used as window-dressing. The paper concludes that policies that promote diversity and inclusivity are not effective if the organisational culture does not change.

Note on the Author

Erroyln Long is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Africa. Long has a strong research interest in gender studies with the focus of highlighting and challenging social inequalities and norms that exist. Currently, Long is registered for a PhD degree in Psychology. Long’s PhD topic is focussed on coloured women’s identities using a decolonial approach.

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