Women and the workplace

2019-03-20 06:00
PHOTO: sourced

PHOTO: sourced

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AFTER celebrating international Women’s Day on Friday, March 8, which calls for women to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements they have accomplished, the Maritzburg Echo spoke to women of various professions to find out their day-to-day struggles in the work environment.

The women who voiced their opinions chose to remain anonymous to protect their jobs and therefore we have only mentioned their professions in the comments.

A communications officer for a major book retailer said that as a young woman of colour she found it difficult, especially since men mostly dominate the decision-making process.

“Personally, I am dealing with being condescended, not by everyone but by certain people in particular, and no one seems to want to say anything because they have been stuck in their ways for years.

“You need to work twice as hard to be a woman in a position of authority.

I recall during a few meetings here noticing that majority of the shareholders are males who on most occasions question my credentials and age as if it is questionable for a black girl to be so young with my qualifications,” said the woman.

One woman who works for a prominent newspaper said that as a woman sometimes she feels as though she must fight harder than her male colleagues to prove herself as tough enough.

“I have noticed that journalism in KwaZulu-Natal is a mostly female dominated industry and yet people tend to speak to our male colleagues first or only.

I have noticed it with police and lawyers and other similar professionals who tend to speak to my male colleagues and overlook me and my female colleagues,” said the woman.

She added that in her line of work sometimes people step over the professional line.

“Men that we approach and have as contacts in our line of work sometimes take our friendliness as flirting,” she said.

Instead of calling and messaging only for tip-offs and information, they’ll want to know your personal life, flirt with you and say inappropriate things and expect you to be fine with it,” added the woman.

In the real estate industry, according to one woman, sometimes women are undermined when it comes to their knowledge.

“We are often not taken seriously or seen as capable in a situation.

We are also asked to do work above our pay grade for managers who earn a set salary but do not do their jobs and delegate tasks to us,” she said.

KZN Women in Business (KZWIB), Chrystal Austin said that she had experienced first hand the injustices women have to face in the work environment.

“My perception is that women definitely have to work harder to achieve a similar status as men.

When we do, we are often mislabelled as pushy, bossy, hard or insensitive against men who are labelled as driven, accomplished, visionary and leaders.

Our management roles are not celebrated in the same way as our male counterparts. We are also most often pushed towards positions that are “softer” or less challenging,” said Austin.

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