Gender Transformation Experiences among Women Leaders in the Western Cape TVET Sector: A Narrative Response

Keywords: gender transformation, equity, women in leadership, narrative study, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, conceptual and analytical frameworks


Leadership structures in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in South Africa face stark gender inequalities. Narratives of women currently in TVET leadership positions in the Western Cape province of South Africa might shed light on gender transformation in this sector. This article provides an insider perspective on 10 purposively selected respondents’ shared experiences during their careers as women leaders through a narrative methodology. The data produced themes like family roles and a professional career balance, stages in becoming a leader, gender-related notions, leadership contexts, and strategies to manage gendered experiences. The analytical framework developed illustrates how these themes were reconciled with a structured method of narrative analysis, described as a problem-solution approach, analysing raw data for five elements of plot structure, namely characters, setting, problem, actions, and resolutions. Aligning the conceptual and analytical frameworks facilitated re-storying inside a plot-structured narrative. The results reported gender transformation progress regarding the career progression of women leaders. Conversely, progress concerning gender stereotyping and men-to-women and women-to-women discrimination was unsatisfactory, causing some respondents to abandon leadership ambitions. Although the small sample size precludes any claim to generalisability, the reported narratives serve as a guideline in addressing all-inclusive gender transformation in TVET college leadership.

Author Biographies

René Bonzet, Centre for Higher and Adult EducationDepartment of Curriculum StudiesFaculty of EducationStellenbosch University

Rene Bonzet is a graduate of the MPhil (Education and Training for Lifelong Learning) programme at Stellenbosch University and a research associate of the Centre for Higher and Adult Education. She worked in the TVET sector at both middle and senior management level.

Beatrice Liezel Frick, Centre for Higher and Adult Education Department of Curriculum Studies Faculty of Education Stellenbosch University
Liezel Frick is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies and the director of the Centre for Higher and Adult Education at the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University (South Africa). Her research interests are within the broader field of doctoral education, with a particular focus on aspects of doctoral creativity and originality, learning during the doctorate, and doctoral supervision. Her Master’s and Doctoral students work more broadly within the fields of higher and adult education, where most tend to focus on workplace learning.