Data from the most recent employment equity reports indicate race and gender differences in the occupation of managerial positions (2002-2003). Blacks account for 19% and Whites 81% of all top management positions. White males hold 71% of top management positions while White women hold 10% of those posts. Black females account for 4% and Black males 15% of all top management positions. In senior management positions, Blacks account for 22% and Whites 78% of positions. White males hold a majority of the middle positions (62% percent) while Black males occupy 17%. White females hold 16% of senior management positions while Black females account for the least, 5%. In sum, the body of data on the status of women in leadership suggests Black females continue to be the most poorly represented group in leadership and management positions, although all women in South Africa face the proverbial glass-ceiling phenomenon. South Africa has not only male dominance but also white dominance in management (Booysen, 1999a).
Research also suggests women in South Africa face similar barriers to their progress and upward mobility as their female counterparts in the rest of the world (Erwee, 1994; Erasmus, 1998: Mathur-Helm, 2002). For example, Erasmus’ (1998) study on South African career women found that in spite of being talented, educated and committed to their careers, misconceptions and stereotyping hindered women’s upward mobility. Women were perceived as not having leadership potential and that their leader behaviour differs from traditional male leaders. Gender differences are exacerbated by race. Black and Coloured women face stereotypes rooted in their historical employment as maids in the homes of white employers.