Women in SA. Work + Life + Equality

We asked South African women about their work life and journey up the corporate ladder. Over 1,500 women participated. Here's what they had to say.

Age of respondents

Age of respondents
Age of respondents
Age of respondents

Highest level of education completed?

Highest level of education completed

2% Doctoral/Professional degree
3% Other
7% Masters degree
16% High School or equivalent
20% Certificate
25% Diploma
27% Bacherlor's degree

Skills level

Skills level

1. Advanced skills 39%
2. Solid skills 26%
3. Expert skills 22%
4. Basic skills 14%

Senior management gender ratio at work

Women at work - senior management gender ratio

65% More men
19% 50/50
16% More women

27% of participants have a diploma and over 30% have a degree or higher qualification. 65% claim that most senior staff at their organisation comprise men. 3% of participants are currently in top executive roles.

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Monthly income (before deductions)

Women at work - Monthly income

9% 0-1K
11% 1-5K
8% 5-7,5K
9% 7,5-10K
14% 10-15K
10% 15-20K
14% 20-30K
9% 30-40K
6% 40-50K
9% 50K+

Department you are currently working in


In the past, women were seen working mostly in teaching, administrative and clerical roles. Today, there seems to be a healthier mix of women in other professional roles.

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How happy are you in your current role?

Job happiness

40% Very unhappy
40% Not sure
20% Very happy

Satisfaction with senior management

Job satisfaction

44% Very unhappy
43% Not sure
13% Very happy

Number of years in current job

21% < 1 Year
30% 1-3 Years
14% 3-5 Years
10% 5-7 Years
9% 7-10 Years
16% 10+ Years

Most respondents indicated that they were unhappy with their current jobs as well as senior management. More than 50% of participants have been in their current job for less than 3 years; perhaps having followed advancement opportunities.

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Desire to be in an exec position one day?

86% Yes
11% No
3% Already in exec role

Are promotions at work solely based on work performance?

63% No
37% Yes

Do you feel women have the same opportunities as men?

59% Fewer
6% More
35% The same

Many women indicated that they would like to be in an executive position one day, however, 59% seem to feel that men have better opportunities for advancement than them. 63% of women feel that career advancement is not solely based on work performance.

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What's the most satisfying about your job?

Job satisfaction

30% Being valued
28% Help the company grow
29% Having good working relationships with co-workers
13% I don't care. It's a job.

Opportunities of advancement at your current organisation?

Opportunity to advance

58% No
22% Yes
20% Unsure

Obstacles for career growth

Job obstacles

28% My work experience
23% My gender
21% Nothing. I'm doing great.
18% My skills
10% My duties as a mom/wife/partner

While only 22% of participants feel that there is an opportunity for advancement within their organisations, gender wasn't necessarily the only obstacle that stood out as preventing women from advancing in their careers. Top reasons included a balanced mix of skills, gender and experience.

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Have you been over-looked for projects/salary increases or promotions?

Women overlooked for salary increase or promotion

44% Yes
29% Not sure
27% No

The likelihood that gender quality will improve

38% Unsure
36% Easier
26% Harder

Many respondents felt that they had been overlooked regarding a pay raise or promotion due to their gender and nearly 60% feel that the subject of diversity at work needs a little improvement. When asked if they foresee continued improvement for women in the workplace, women seemed to lean slightly more towards a 'yes' or a 'maybe', compared to a 'no'.

Your biggest career motivator

Biggest career motivator

26% Making a difference
21% Career advancement
17% Work/life balance
17% Job fulfillment
16% My salary
3% Other

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What do you do when your kids are ill?

When your kids are ill

42% A mix of the options below, depending on the situation
27% Put in a day of annual leave
10% Contact spouse/family/friends to help
9% I call in 'sick'
9% Work from home
3% Find a babysitter

Maternity Leave

Length of maternity leave

9% A few days
2% 1-2 Weeks
4% 3-4 Weeks
8% 1-2 Months
25% 2-3 Months
52% 3-4 Months

Are there support channels available to you?

30% Maternity leave
22% No support
22% Leave of absence
14% Flexitime
8% Working from home
3% Extended maternity leave
1% In-house/Subsidised daycare

Is your company supportive of your responsibilities as a mother?

46% Sometimes
29% Yes
25% No

While most women took between 3-4 months of maternity leave, over 35% say they resort to taking annual leave or 'calling in sick' when their children are ill. Over 70% felt that their employer was only somewhat or not at all supportive of their duties as a mother.

Survey Note

Many survey participants asked us why we didn't consider factors such as race (and others) in the survey. Although we agree that there are many factors affecting the current state of the South African labour market, these areas were beyond the scope of this survey which was initiated as part of the upcoming National Women's Day in August. As such the survey focuses on women in the work place. We hope that providing some insight is preferable to none.

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