Tales of gender bias in the workplace: female sport administrators' experiences of differential treatment

  • Simone Titus

Abstract

South African sportswomen have a proud history of using sport as a site of resistance against racism and sexism in society. However, 17 years since the advent of democracy, gender inequality still persists in South African sport. In traditional women's sport such as netball and softball, men can still be found in leadership positions while females are not well represented in the administration of traditional male sports such as rugby, soccer and cricket. This study reports the experiences of female sports administrators at a provincial level in the Western Cape. A qualitative approach was used to explore reported differential treatment experienced by participants in their workplace. Candidates were purposively selected to reflect the historical and cultural diversity of women in the Western Cape which would add to the complexity of gender equity in the workplace. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with thematic analyses of interview transcripts. A key finding is that there is evidence to suggest that female sport administrators challenged practices of differential treatment, especially with regard to decision making and gender-role stereotyping. In addition, participants report their defiance to such acts of gender bias. The study concludes that even though the participants in this study acknowledged that differential treatment does exist, they do not experience it directly because they challenge such practices. One recommendation for this study is that leadership and mentoring programmes should be offered to women in leadership positions and those in prospective leadership positions.

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