An exploration of women's experiences in senior management in the Petroleum industry South Africa
Nefdt, Anthea Carol
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There are relatively few women in senior leadership or management positions in South African industry. The oil industry is no exception to this and could in fact be considered to exemplify the ways in which women are marginalised. This small-scale qualitative project aims to explore challenges and experiences women face when entering senior management positions in the Petroleum Industry in Cape Town. The main objective of the study is to explore how gender (and other relevant subject positions) impacts on women's career development and opportunities. I used a qualitative feminist methodological framework and conducted a total of 12 semi-structured interviews with women employed in upper management positions in the 8 oil companies in the greater Western Cape area including the South African Petroleum Industry Association and Department of Energy (SAPIA). A thematic data analysis was then utilised to interpret the data. My findings show that many women perceive the route to success as difficult yet possible suggesting that the popular ''glass ceiling'' conceptual scheme should be replaced by the ''labyrinth of leadership'' model discussed in Early and Carli 2007 with relation to the oil industry. Further findings suggest that although the oil industry provides unique challenges to women as a gendered organization, it also incorporates various progressive initiatives for their advancement.