College of Humanities

Black SA Women in Predominantly White Workspaces – How do they Manage?

Black South African women’s negotiation of their racial and gender identities in predominantly white workspaces were investigated by UKZN staff member Ms Andile Moyo for her Master’s degree in Social Sciences (Educational Psychology).

‘South Africa continues to be divided along racial, gender, and class lines,’ said Moyo. ‘This has resulted in many black African women being marginalised and oppressed at work and in society. A fundamental component of decent work is equal opportunity and treatment in the labour market. Sadly, additional barriers still prevent women from accessing the workforce in South Africa and elsewhere. Once employed, black women continue to face difficulties.’

Seven black South African women with workplace experience ranging from one year to eight years participated in her study which explored their interactions with co-workers and their professional activities in white-dominated workplaces.

The results show the negative experiences black women suffered in predominantly white work spaces. Moyo believes the findings ‘may be used to create intervention programmes that encourage black women who want to join the changing workforce to feel good about themselves and to succeed professionally and personally’.

Moyo thanked her family, friends and supervisor for being her support system.

She advised students to ‘always give credit to yourself for coming this far. Resilience and hard work are rewarding.’

Moyo plans to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa to practise as a psychologist and offer her services where they are most needed.