Transformation of higher education in South Africa included among others, forcing institutions of higher learning to implement policies aimed at elevating women to managerial positions. Although the challenges to get to the desired government objectives are still there, universities have not been making a fast progress. Focusing on women already occupying managerial positions, this paper explored their lived experiences, views and attitudes about their roles in higher education leadership.
A random sample of eight female managers at an urban traditional university in South Africa was interviewed about their personal experiences as managers in higher education and difficulties associated with being a woman in management. The sample included Deputy Vice Chancellors, Deans of faculties, Heads of Departments and Executive Directors. The results were transcribed and analysed with the aid of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software, Atlas.ti.
The results suggested that, women are not afraid to make unpopular decisions. Women are also more considerate of others (peers) when taking decisions, especially in delicate situations where politics play a greater role. Additionally, it emerged from the study that empowerment of other people by not silencing or oppressing them is notable and important among women managers.