Orientation: This study aimed to discover how context, Micro-Aggressions and Whiteness impact on the professional identity negotiation of Engineers from Previously Disadvantaged Groups construct and negotiate their professional identity in the South African context.
Purpose of the Study: This study focussed on the construction and negotiation of professional identity of Engineers within the South African context. Specifically, the study focussed on Engineers that form part of historically disadvantaged race groups. The study focussed on the significance of contexts, such as culture, socio-economic status, history, organisations etc, in the development of professional identity. The concept of Whiteness was also studied, along with the impact racial micro-aggressions.
Motivation for the Study: This research provided a place for Engineers from historically disadvantaged race groups to tell their stories. The aim of the research was to explore the barriers that Micro-Aggressions, Context and Whiteness pose to professional identity negotiation in the South African context, and provide suggestions to overcome the impact of these barriers.
Research design, approach and method: This research makes use of a qualitative research design and a multiple case study method was used. Semi-structured interviews were used, and the question “tell me your story” was raised to each participant. The results were analysed in terms of narrative and a thematic analysis. Five Engineers took part in this study.
Main Findings: Context, on the Macro, Meso and Micro level, plays a regulatory role in professional identity development. Whiteness and racial micro-aggressions are prevalent in South African organisations. Practical Implications: Although organisations are focussing on BBEEE and transformation, many structural and contextual factors can impact on the professional identity negotiation of Engineers from historically disadvantaged groups. Very little beyond what is currently being addressed through these policies is done to support professionals of colour. This can impact on professional development, skills transfer and talent retention in organisations.
Contribution / Value Add: The study expands on current knowledge of professional identity and intends to make the theory relevant to South African context. The results of this study aim to help organisations to understand the many different factors that could play a regulatory factor in professional identity development in the South African context. Through this understanding, strategies to eradicate these barriers can be implemented and the profession of Engineering could ultimately become more accessible.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2019.