This study is a qualitative exploration of the experiences of female executives in the financial sector of South Africa. It aims to explore the perceptions of the possible challenges which have been experienced by executive women within the financial sector while attempting to break the glass ceiling.
In many countries including South Africa there lies a contradiction between our governmental policies of equality and equal representation for men and women in the employment sectors and the actual practice. Despite the fact that our employment laws have changed in order to give equal opportunities to both males and females there is still such a small percentage of women holding executive positions in corporate South Africa and this could be a consequence of the challenges faced by them.
Using interpretive phenomenological analysis based on a feminist standpoint as a method, this study explores the hidden gender inequalities that exist within the boardrooms of the financial sector. It starts by exploring how available literature constructs the problem as related to the internal organisational and institutional structures of the financial sectors and individual matters and societal perceptions.
Interview data from semi-structured interviews with females in executive positions were analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. Similar views emerged from the participants in this study, which confirm previous literature and studies. The barriers highlighted in this research were the different roles which men and women perform, compensation, networking and mentoring disadvantages, re-entry into the corporate world after maternity leave and the ability to be a mother and career woman at the same time. The study agrees that women tend to experience the glass ceiling or factors contributing to what has been termed the glass ceiling.