Participation of women in management in the hospitality and financial services sectors in Zimbabwe: Strategies for meeting leadership and gender challenges
Zinyemba, Alice Zvisinei
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The thesis highlights the global and local under-representation of women in positions of leadership. The research provides insights into the barriers that women managers in the hospitality and financial services sectors faced, the key success factors and the strategies that they employed in breaking the glass ceiling. Research has established that in societies with minimal representation of women in business leadership such as Zimbabwe, women’s roles are more traditional and women tend to be found largely in supportive and submissive roles of family care-giving, household responsibilities, nursing and teaching. Stereotypes and gender biases are high and the glass ceiling is harder to break. The study explores what researchers have found regarding effective leadership and management styles and confirms that culture impacts on gender and leadership. This thesis utilized the mixed methods approach to qualitative research in order to identify the leadership and gender challenges that impact on the participation of women in management in the hospitality and financial services sectors in Zimbabwe. The conceptual framework that guided the research methodology and design was the Input- Process- Output (IPO) model used in the systems approach. Data from the questionnaire, in depth interviews and focus discussion groups provided input into the framework. The output provided responses to the key study questions. The main leadership and gender challenges identified in the thesis have to do with difficulties in work life balance and prejudices from colleagues resulting in them not being taken seriously. The main success factors identified included hard work, acquiring the necessary qualifications, confidence, assertiveness and creativity in managing work life balance. The main recommendations from the study include: acquiring the necessary professional qualifications for the particular industry, willingness to take up challenges that come with senior positions, hard work, effectively managing work-life balances, the need for awareness- raising through networking with other women managers, and enforcement of policies for increasing representation of women in boards and senior management positions.