Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender and Race in UK Organisations: Case Study of Nigerian and Indian Women

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender and Race in UK Organisations: Case Study of Nigerian and Indian Women

Article excerpt

Women's participation in the labour market has evolved from women's increase in the workforce to their ability to penetrate 'male' oriented occupations (Davis, 2000; Witz, 1992). Researchers have tried to explain why after several years women and men are not equal in most organisations (Rubeiy et al, 1999; Rees, 1998; Blackburn, Browne, Brooks and Jarman, 2002). In the UK, notable steps have been taken to investigate women's disadvantage in the labour market, by investigating the occurrence among different sectors (Tomlinson, Olsen, Neff, Purdam and Mertha, 2005) and amongst various ethnic groups (EOC, 2006). This research is focused on ethnic minority women (EMW) in the UK, specifically on two groups, which are Nigerian and Indian women in senior and management positions in English organisations. Both groups were chosen for specific reasons. According to the EOC (2006), British men of Indian descent have relatively high economic activity and earnings comparable with white males. However, the EOC reports clearly demonstrate that Indian women are not at similar level. In the US, Reynolds (2006) shows that majority of southern Nigerian women build comfortable lives for themselves, making sure they do not go below the middle-class margin and several of them make progress in terms of acquiring wealth and maintaining successful careers. In the UK, the EOC (2006) statistics for black African women do not indicate such success stories and there has been no research focused on Nigerian women's careers. We find the disparity in previous researches disturbing, and have taken up the task to investigate, using the personal experiences of women who do not fit into the box of underachievers as most researches have suggested. There are studies that have examined the career progression of women in the workplace, but veiy few have investigated the career of ethnic minority women, taking into consideration the combination of race and gender. This is the main focus of this paper. In this paper we will attempt to investigate the issues that gender and ethnicity generate in Nigerian and Indian women's career progression within English organisation. We also explore how these women have been able to navigate through these issues in their careers. Thus, the research questions are:

* What are the key issues that gender and ethnicity generate in Nigerian and Indian women's career progression within English Organisation?

* How have these women been able to navigate through these issues within their careers?

The premise of this paper will be taken from research conducted in the UK with occasional reference to the USA which has also conducted notable research on social categories and its impact in the labour market and individuals' career outcomes. In this paper the term 'ethnicity' will be used to refer to people of different race or nationalities. The term 'race' will be used to mean similar classification however it will be used where a quoted literature and author has adopted it.

Literature Review

Gender and Ethnicity in the Labour Market

Gender and race are not new issues in the area of development. However, much emphasis is being placed on gender and ethnicity issues in the work place. According to Acker (2006, p.442) 'gender, and racial inequalities in organisations have focused on one or another of these categories, rarely attempting to study them as complex, mutually reinforcing or contradicting processes.' The isolation of such categories leads to an inability to address the issues related to people within these categories. This has been condemned by Flax (1987), Harding (1986) and Collins (1989), feminist authors who believe that women's research should not be done in isolation of their race, ethnicity or class. Intersectionality in modern social science addresses this convergence of social categories such as sexuality, ethnicity and gender which accounts for much of the research on submm-groups of people such as EMW in multiracial countries (McCall 2009, Zack 2005). …

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