Page 14 - University of Pretoria RESEARCH REVIEW 2016
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DEVELOPMENT and the economy
        Stella Nkomo, Jenny Hoobler and Nasima Carrim
12 | UP Research Review 2016
Every research article about women and work used to begin with a statement such as ‘women are entering the workforce in numbers unprecedented in history’. More recently, the focus has shifted.
Researchers want to dig deeper to understand what the workplace is like for women and, more specifically, what it is like for women of various demographic groups; how women get ahead and advance their careers when family and cultural identities get in the way of work identities; and, at a macro-level, if having more women is ‘good for business’.
Professors Nkomo and Hoobler and Dr Carrim, in the Department of Human Resource Management at UP, are taking the next steps, and are asking questions in their research about what gender means today for women’s careers, and also for business organisations.
Dr Nasima Mohamed Hoosen Carrim considers questions of how South African Indian women’s identities – that of mother, sister, and unmarried daughter – intersect with their workplace identities and career aspirations. The intersectionality of these identities, and the ‘identity work’ of South African Indian career women, is the crux of her work. She writes that Indian parents are torn between ensuring that daughters maintain their honour and dignity as ‘respectable Indian women’, and allowing their daughters the freedom to venture away from the protective space of the home and family.
Professor Jenny Hoobler’s research focuses on how family identities intersect with women’s career roles and career success. She has used data collected from employees and supervisors of a Fortune 1000 US company to analyse work and family conflicts, their impact on supervisors’ perceptions of employees’ engagement at work, and ultimately the career success of women employees, as indicated by performance ratings and salary. In further work, she examines the relationships between domestic workers and career women who employ them, and how work-family conflict may ‘trickle down’ from domestic employers to affect the family situations of their domestic employees. She writes that domestic workers in most developing nations are the ’forgotten persons central to the work-family balancing act’.
Together with Professor Nkomo and two other researchers, Hoobler has published the results of a meta-analysis that seeks to answer one of the big questions in gender and diversity in organisations by testing the ‘business case’ for women leaders: Does having more women leaders have a positive or negative impact on the ‘bottom line’ of businesses? They found conclusive results, suggesting that women’s leadership may enhance organisational performance, in general, and sales performance, in particular; and further, that the positive effect on firm performance is more likely in gender egalitarian national cultures.

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