Women's understandings and experiences of empowerment in an organisation : a qualitative feminist approach

Jamieson, Sally-Anne. (1999) Women's understandings and experiences of empowerment in an organisation : a qualitative feminist approach. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This study explores women's understandings and experiences of empowerment so that they could empower themselves by using their own knowledge to see through factors that serve to disempower them. At a time when empowerment and its future is under intense discussion in South Africa, it seems wise to move away from quantitative studies which do not facilitate the development of comprehensive theory in industrial psychology. This study provides a qualitative feminist analysis of women's understandings and experiences of empowerment in an organisation. Written protocols, interviews and a workshop were used as data collection tools and seven women from one organisation participated in the study. The research revealed that women understand and experience empowerment in a number of ways. These understandings and experiences are affected by various factors: organisational factors; personal characteristics and abilities; their relationship with others at work and at home; and societal factors such as double standards for men and women and role expectations. The breadth and scope of the results imply that any attempt to empower women should include relational, motivational and feminist perspectives on power and empowerment. In addition, the results indicate that providing a space in which the women could explore the network of disempowering practices in their lives, was empowering for the women. Through the process of the research, the participants' understandings of empowerment evolved from viewing empowerment as something that is predominantly external (for example, influenced by others and organisational factors) to something that is internal (for example, influenced by motivational factors). This study cautions against seeing empowerment as something that is solely internal because by doing so women are placing the responsibility of empowerment upon themselves thus setting themselves up for failure. However, through the process of seeing empowerment as internal, the women were able to move towards a feminist understanding of empowerment in which not only is empowerment external ("out there") or internal ("within") but includes acknowledging one's own responsibility in empowerment as well as external societal factors that serve to hamper women.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Industrial psychology, Women, Employment, Feminism, Empowerment
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Psychology
ID Code:2854
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:22 May 2012 09:53
Last Modified:22 May 2012 09:53
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