Exploring the Gap Between Male and Female Employment in the South African Workforce

Elaine Sinden

Abstract


Women in South Africa have for decades, experienced discrimination in the workplace because certain positions such as top and senior management posts were predominately given to men. If women were employed, they were mostly offered positions at the lower levels of the organisation, or specific jobs such as secretaries or administrative jobs. To address such discrimination, to ensure gender equality is promoted and women are offered equal employment opportunities, the South African government has since 1994 adopted different anti- discriminatory laws to expedite equal employment to improve the position of women in the workplace. To explore the extent to which the position of women in the workplace has changed – if at all – since the dawn of democracy, this paper provides an analysis of women’s employment standing in 2014 in the South African workforce. The goal of this study is to identify employment gender gaps both in terms of employment numbers, as well as employment in different sectors. To explore this objective, the study first provides an overview of some of the anti - discriminatory laws that were put in place by the South African government to promote equal opportunities for all South Africans, especially women. Second, the study develops a conceptual framework based on an analysis of the literature on gender equality and its link to equal employment for women. Finally, the study provides an overview of the South African labour force as at 2014, showing the gap between male and female employment. The findings confirm that despite South Africa’s progressive legislative and policy measures, women remain underrepresented in the workplace, meaning that progress in redressing unfair discrimination has been slow and/or uneven. The findings also reveal that men continue to dominate the workforce, especially in top and senior management positions.

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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