Original Research

Emotional labour as experienced by women in leadership positions

Tashrequa M. Beharrie, Tshegofatso Mabitsela
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 49 | a2119 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v49i0.2119 | © 2023 Tashrequa M. Beharrie, Tshegofatso Mabitsela | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 June 2023 | Published: 27 November 2023

About the author(s)

Tashrequa M. Beharrie, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Tshegofatso Mabitsela, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: In the workplace, emotional labour is said to be disproportionately performed by women. Research also seems to suggest that women in leadership roles practise emotional labour.

Research purpose: This study aimed to determine what work-related situations gave rise to experiences of emotional labour of women in leadership roles. Furthermore, to gain insight into the experiences of the emotional labour of women in leadership roles across industries within the South African context.

Motivation for the study: Within the South African workplace context, little is known about the workplace situations that give rise to specific emotional labour experiences among women in leadership roles.

Research approach/design and method: A qualitative approach was adopted, focusing on a phenomenological strategy, utilising the purposive and snowball sampling technique to acquire participants. Data saturation was reached at 12 participants and thematic analysis was utilised to analyse the raw data from the interviews.

Main findings: Themes identified from the data were leading through emotions, suppressing emotions to get work done, demonstrating emotional intelligence, avoiding emotional stereotyping and navigating the work-home emotional spillover.

Practical/managerial implications: Industrial psychologists are encouraged to create a culture where open conversations are encouraged and are a norm as a way for employees to engage constructively.

Contribution/value-add: This study adds to the literature on situations that give rise to experiences of emotional labour for women in leadership positions in South Africa and has important implications for organisations and women in leadership.


Keywords

emotional labour; women; leadership; emotions; experiences

JEL Codes

J24: Human Capital • Skills • Occupational Choice • Labor Productivity

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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