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Professional and managerial black African women: Johannesburg and London’s emerging and transnational elites

Farmer, Diane Chilufya Chilangwa (2010) Professional and managerial black African women: Johannesburg and London’s emerging and transnational elites. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The number of women entering professional and managerial jobs globally has increased over the past thirty years. However, only a small percentage of texts within feminist and organisational theory specifically address the lives and experiences of professional and managerial Black African women within the workplace and family life. As such, many organisational and social research questions in this area remain unanswered. This thesis examines the work and family lives of professional and managerial Black African women living and working in Johannesburg and London. It explores how such women with relatively similar colonial histories, cultures, career and professional backgrounds handle their complex social positioning. This complexity, as discussed in the thesis, is created mainly through the way in which identity characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity and class intersect and impact on these women when working in an environment where they are in a minority and viewed in some instances as ‘space invaders’. The impact that these complex social categories, combined with the influences of culture and history, have on their identities as career women, mothers, wives, partners and daughters is also examined. As Black African women with careers in major cities on opposite sides of the globe, these emerging and transnational elite Black African women remain a rarity and hidden gem to most – making them unique both in the workplace and in communities. In London, they are not only minorities within the UK population but minorities in their role as professional and managerial women within the corporate private sector. In Johannesburg, although part of the majority population in the country, they still remain minorities within the professional and managerial circles of that country’s corporate private sector. The method I use to gather data is the Life History approach which allows me, the researcher, to reveal my participants’ individual views and interpretation of their own work and family life experiences. I do this by conducting semi-structured interviews as a means of collecting their ‘life stories’. These stories told by Black African professional and managerial women reflect their views of reality. Through a form of Life History analysis, this mode of enquiry further reveals the importance of acknowledging difference when implementing government and organisational policies that combat barriers brought about by corporate practices and cultural attitudes within the workplace and society as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Diane Chilufya Chilangwa Farmer
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Gender Institute
Supervisor: Perrons, Diane

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