The Major Influences of the Boundless-Extended Family System on the Professional Experiences of Black Zimbabwean Women Leaders in Higher Education

By Chitiga, Miriam Miranda | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Major Influences of the Boundless-Extended Family System on the Professional Experiences of Black Zimbabwean Women Leaders in Higher Education


Chitiga, Miriam Miranda, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


General Introduction

The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the influences of the extended family on the professional experiences of black women leaders working within the higher education sector of Zimbabwe, a southern African nation. The article is based on information provided in interviews conducted with thirty female Zimbabwean higher education leaders who revealed their major extended family responsibilities and how those domestic experiences interact with their public professional experiences. The paper examines these women's familial and professional experiences within the context of the interrelated, socially constructed classification systems of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and class as they operate in Zimbabwe. The paper concludes by suggesting collaborative ways of alleviating burdens imposed by extended family responsibilities to improve the professional experiences of the women leaders.

Contexualization

The black women leaders in the study live and work within the shared unique contexts of Zimbabwe; therefore, their extended family experiences are analyzed within the appropriate Zimbabwean power hierarchies based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and class. Feminists of African, Asian, and other Third World descent advocate the study of the complex and multiple intersections of the social systems of stratification mentioned above to critically examine any social situation (Gaidzanwa 1997; Mikell 1997; Hill Collins 1991; Harrison 2001; hooks 1984). Reacting to the tendency of early white, middle class and western feminists, especially those in the first wave of feminism, to universalize and essentialize women and their experiences, non-western feminists, womanists of color, (Alice Walker 1983) and Third World feminists highlight the diversity of women's experiences regarding the ways they are influenced by the intersections of their specific social and power differential systems. In other words, they insist that gender hierarchies be analyzed in conjunction with other systems of stratifications based on race, nationality, sexual orientation, and class. Similar analytical frameworks are also called for and used by many critical social scientists and feminist scholars (i.e. Harrison 2000; Weber 2001; Nicholson 1997; Tong 1998; Sleeter and Grant 1999; West and Fenstermaker 1995).

One major goal of such critical feminist scholars (including global, African, Third-World, black feminists and womanists) is to examine the lives of women in a more holistic fashion, which takes into consideration the diverse influences and differential factors that shape their experiences, (Anderson and Collins 1992; Harrison 2001; Weber 2001; hooks 1984; West and Fenstermaker 1995). Weber (2001, 19) states: "Every social situation is affected by society-wide historical patterns of [nationality] race, class, gender, and sexuality that are not necessarily apparent to the participants and are experienced differently depending upon the [specific social stratification characteristics] of the people involved."

This paper analyzes the impact of the extended family responsibilities on the work lives of the women leaders within the contexts of the systems of social stratification prevalent in Zimbabwe. The analysis examines how multiple systems of oppression and exploitation simultaneously operate to disadvantage, discriminate, disempower, suppress, prejudice, exploit, and oppress women. Bonvillain (2001, 11) writes, "The notion of stratification refers to unequal access to social prestige and power available to and assumed by certain members of a society. It may be linked to unequal access to resources, goods, and political power."

The power and privilege embedded within the systems of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and class are temporal in that the categories gain or lose their meanings and influence in relation to historical epochs (West and Fenstermaker 1995; Weber 2001; Harrison 2001).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Major Influences of the Boundless-Extended Family System on the Professional Experiences of Black Zimbabwean Women Leaders in Higher Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?