Black women academics’ experiences in HE South Africa:
The interplay of Structure, Culture and Agency - A Mad
Background&Context: Post-apartheid. Majority population group; high enrolment in HE. Least represented in HE
academic positions. White-males still hold and promoted to top positions. Policies support transformation. Do structures
Research Questions: What do Black women academics perceive as enablements / constraints in trajectories through HE?
What is the interplay of structure, culture and agency?
Methodology: Drawing allows biographer to free-think and relate more clearly to queries of past.
“[P]ersonal accounts can provide full illuminating insights into what goes on in education”. (Weiner 2011)
Narratives and “telling histories of lived experiences has value in ‘educational studies to inform understanding of the
historical conditions in which educational actors find themselves”. (Weiner 2011)
Method: *16 academics *4 institutions *2 research advantaged & teaching disadvantaged
*1st interview drawing of institutional contexts *2nd interview drawing of socio-historical trajectory
*Participant given opportunity to a talk about her drawing *Interviews transcribed, coded and analysed *drawings
analysed for details of enablements and constraints
Analysis and initial findings
*Different experiences at research and teaching universities
*Burden of proof felt at previously white universities
*Culture of workgroup plays an important role *Need expressed for mentors
*Family and school culture in early education plays a role
**Sense of self seems important in accessing and changing culture
*Morphogenesis of SCA depends largely on perceptions of constraints
/enablements as well as an acquiescent culture.
Jean L. Farmer firstname.lastname@example.org
With thanks to my supervisors:
Proff Brenda Leibowitz & Ronelle Carolissen
NRF project: Structure, Culture and Agency
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