Original Research

Doing gender well: Women’s perceptions on gender equality and career progression in the South African security industry

Shandré K. Jansen van Rensburg
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1815 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1815 | © 2021 Shandré K. Jansen van Rensburg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 June 2020 | Published: 17 May 2021

About the author(s)

Shandré K. Jansen van Rensburg, Department of Criminology and Security Science, College of Law, University of South Africa, Tshwane, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Although significant progress has been made globally in gender equality, women still occupy less political influence, fewer leadership positions and yield less control over their careers than most men. Gender inequality is evident in male-dominated work environments such as the security industry.

Research purpose: This study reflects on women’s perceptions on gender equality and career progression in the South African security industry.

Motivation for the study: In post-democracy South Africa, women are categorised as previously disadvantaged, therefore a priority group in terms of advancement. However, it is still unclear, from the narratives of the women themselves, how their career progression is encumbered in the milieu of the security industry.

Research approach/design and method: Through qualitative one-on-one semi-structured interviews, 15 women, working in the security industry, shared their experiences concerning gender equality and career progression. Data were analysed thematically, guided by the context of the gendered security profession.

Main findings: The findings reveal that women experience slower career progression than men in terms of rejection and work allocation. Moreover, negative perceptions of female leadership among colleagues was a factor hindering career progression.

Practical/managerial implications: This study argues by doing gender well, equality in the security workplace can be obtained. Furthermore, the study encourages South African security managers to recognise how aspects such as rejection, work allocation and a negative perception of female leadership may encumber the career progression of female security professionals.

Contribution/value-add: The study contributes to scientific knowledge and discourse regarding women’s perceptions on gender equality and career progression.


Keywords

gender; gender equality; career progression; security industry; rejection; work allocation; female leadership

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