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CAREER ADVANCEMENT STRATEGIES OF WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP AT UNIVERSITIES OF TECHNOLOGY IN SOUTH AFRICA

Ms Mabel Awung, Professor Nirmala Dorasamy

Abstract


This study aimed to investigate the career advancement strategies of women in leadership positions at Universities of Technology (UoTs) in South Africa. It is argued in the study that research has focused more on the challenges women face in their careers, while little has been said about the experiences of women who have advanced to leadership positions (Kelly 2016, Chiloane-Tsoka 2016 and Mayet 2015). According to Kelly (2016), Chiloane-Tsoka (2016) and Mayet (2015), this lack of progress is as result of the lack of flexibility and unpredictable scheduling at the workplace, networking, mentoring, stereotypes at the workplace, work-life balance, organizational structures and policies, socio-cultural perceptions and societal values that continue to oppress women. This paper therefore seeks to examine how women managed to advance to leadership positions in order to encourage women who seek similar positions. The study used a qualitative research design. Telephonic and face-to-face semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. A thematic approach was used to analyze the advancement strategies of women in leadership. The findings revealed that socio-economic status affected women’s career advancement, as was how these women viewed and balanced their complex roles in society. The findings also revealed that women’s advancement to leadership positions was through their own creative ways and abilities, as well as through the support structures inside and outside their organizations. This may imply that in order for women to advance in their careers, women themselves need to focus more on their strengths and ability, and stop focusing on their weaknesses or challenges.


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