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Table of Contents
Table of contents
Table list
	1.1 Background and problem statement
	1.2 Gender framework
	1.3 Argument
	1.4 Aim and research questions
	1.5 Value of the study
	1.6 About me
	1.7 Chapter outlines
	2.1 Feminism
		2.1.1 The first wave of feminism
		2.1.2 The second wave of feminism
		2.1.3 The third wave of feminism
	2.2 South African policy and legislation on gender and higher education
	2.3Access to higher education and experiences of black women in high education
		2.3.1 South African context
	2.4 Transition from higher education to the workplace
		2.4.1 South African context
	2.5Women graduates in the workplace
	2.5.1 South African context
	3.1 An overview of the capabilities approach
	3.2 Sen’s and Nussbaum’s perspectives of the capabilities approach
	3.3 Education and capabilities
	3.4 Education, gender and capabilities
	3.5 Empowerment
	4.1 Research aim and questions
	4.2 Research approach
		4.2.1Feminist methodology
	4.3 Research method
	4.4 Participants and sampling
		4.4.1 Pilot study
	4.5 Ethics
	4.6 Data collection and analysis
	4.7 Data analysis
	4.8 Trustworthiness
	5.1 Xoli
	5.2 Lebo
	5.3 Fifi
	5.4 Thuli
	5.5 Mpho
	5.6 Nezi
	5.7 Mary
	5.8 Thabelo
	5.9 Aya
		6.1.1 Capabilities
			Cross-cultural exposure
			Communication and interpersonal skills
			Knowledge, imagination and critical thinking
			Respect, dignity and social consciousness
			Practical reasoning
			Lifelong learning
			Using capabilities gained in HE
		6.1.2 Gender
			Gender and respect
			Gender as a motivation
			Gender and the workplace
			Affirmative action and gender
			Family and gender
			Gender and social roles
			Gender and culture
		6.1.3. Race
			Experiences of race in education
			Race in the workplace
			Race and opportunity
		6.1.4 Agency
			Did they make their own choices?
			Positive conversion factors influencing agency
			Negative conversion factors
	6.2 Discussion
		6.2.2 Conversion factors
		Personal conversion factors
		Social conversion factors
			Positive social conversation factors
		Family support
		Socioeconomic factors
			Negative social conversion factors
		Environmental conversion factors
			Positive environmental conversion factors
			Negative environmental conversion factors
		6.2.3 Agency
		6.2.4 Intersectionality
	7.1 Summary of research findings
	7.2 Conclusion
	7.3 Limitations
	7.4 Recommendations and further research areas
Appendix A: Information sheet
Appendix B: Research questions
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Exploring higher education capabilities of black women graduates

towards personal and professional development


Nteboheng Theresia Mahlaha

This dissertation is submitted in accordance with the requirements

for the

Master of Arts in Higher Education Studies

in the

School of Higher Education Studies, Faculty of Education

at the

University of the Free State, Bloemfontein

Date of submissi on: October 2014

Supervisors: Prof . Melanie Walker and Dr Sonja Loots

Page 2



I declare that this study, submitted in fulfilment of the Master of Arts in Higher Education

Studies at the University of the Free State, is my own work and that I have not previously

submitted this work, either as a whole or in part, for a qualification at another university or at

another faculty at this university. I hereby cede copyright of this work to the University of the

Free State.

September 2014

Signature Date

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but obviously I had to prove myself, like during the year, I had to work hard, that is what was

going to keep me in the honours programme. A few months into her honours degree, she

realised she was not coping with the workload while she was also keeping a job. She

decided to transfer to a distance-learning university to continue her degree part time. I ended

up deciding to do the rest of my modules with a long distance university that gave me time to

be able to work as well as study. Like I said, the reason I decided to study with (that

university) is because I could see I couldn’t handle, you understand. It is about being able to

make choices like that. And being honest with you and saying, ok I am not copying with and

making the changes I had to make. Thuli made this choice because she wanted to work

while studying and still have a social life.

Though Thuli thinks that her undergraduate years were not really that valuable, she has a

different perspective concerning her honours year. She learned a great deal from her

honours year, much of which she could use in the labour market. She completed her

honours in psychological counselling, which helped her to know how to deal with people in

trauma situations. Her honours year also opened up her eyes to different possibilities and

careers to pursue, such as social development, which were closely related to psychology.

However, she would still be able to do what she loves, which is to help people. I think it is all

about balance, being able to like, balance your work.

Thuli gained self-confidence from her interactions with other students at university. She

became more vocal about what she thought, instead of shying away. Thuli says had she not

gone to higher education, she would not be where she is life, explaining that she needed her

qualification to get her job. When asked what she thinks she learned from higher education

she says: I always say education is not just about books and stuff. It gives you so much

more, ways of thinking, being able to sell yourself and stuff. I would not be able to stand in

front of people, you know. It gives you so much more than the education itself, so I wouldn’t

have all those skills had I not come to university.

After completing her honours degree, Thuli applied for an internship to gain practical

experience. She explains that only three black people were selected to go to the interview

and she knew that only one would make it. Even with the interview itself I felt I was definitely

black…They had three black students there, you could obviously feel that they wanted one

black student for integration…I think if they had a choice they would have a panel of white

students only. But like, what do you do, you can’t get there and complain if you want the

internship. She felt intimidated and a bit undermined during the panel interview but, in the

end, she claims that anthropology helped her get the internship:As a black person you

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always need to bring something extra, and I was the only one who did anthropology. Thuli

told the panel that, because she studied anthropology, she understands different cultures

and respects people’s belief systems.

She got the internship and worked very hard. Her main tasks were to administer

psychometric tests and help with trauma counselling at childcare centres. That is what made

me want to do more of the community work, social development and then the psychology.

She realised that she could change people’s lives if she studied social development and

combined it with her honours in psychology. When her internship ended, she was selected

the second best intern because of her hard work. When asked how hard or easy it was for

her to get a job after completing her internship, Thuli explains that it was quite easy. When

she was still an undergraduate, she was offered a tutoring job at the department of

anthropology because of her good grades. She worked as a tutor until she completed her

undergraduate degree and was promoted to be a lecturer’s assistant throughout her honours

and internship years. She was then promoted again to junior lecturer. She explains that,

during her time working these jobs, she learned a great deal. She did more research in her

job than she actually did while studying. We only got the basic things; we did not do a lot of

practical work that is needed in the field. However, the little I did actually helped me when I

had to do the things practically… When I had to analyse my data I still sometimes went to

my text book to see what exactly I was doing. She met great people who guided her in her

job and life. Although Thuli liked her job, she wanted to leave and follow her passion of

working in the community.

Since then, she had been applying for jobs and was only called for two interviews. She did

not get the one job, because she did not have a driver’s licence, which was one of the main

requirements. She says her being a foreigner must have played a role in her struggle to get

a job in South Africa. She does not want to go back to Lesotho, because she feels she will

not grow professionally. At the time of the interview, she had just received South African

citizenship and thought her luck would change.

Thuli says she has never been treated badly because of her race or gender, with the

exception of her internship interview. When asked what she thinks we could do to increase

the number of black women in internships, she answers: I don’t think it’s something that will

change, honestly, I think you deal with it. If I had gone to the interview and tried to say that

this is unfair or tried to go report to whomever, I would not have gotten the internship or I

would have gotten it, but then would have created a situation that is not very nice to work in.

Therefore, for me I think everything is a challenge … I left all the black mentality stuff outside

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How were you performing academically? (Can you describe positive experiences? Can you

give me examples? Can you describe any negative experiences? Can you give me


Did you have time for friends and family, and what did you do with your friends? Is there

anything you felt you could not do with them because of university?

What about your experiences of co-curricular activities at university?

Which academic/professional skills did you gain from higher education?

Do you think you could have acquired those skills elsewhere had you not gone to university?

What knowledge did you gain? (How important is/has this knowledge been for you?)

Did you learn any social skills at university? Which social skills did you learn in higher


Do you think you could have acquired those skills elsewhere had you not gone to university?

What did you do after completing higher education? Is this what you wanted to do?

How prepared were you for the labour market? How did you go about finding a job?

What skills or knowledge did you have/lack?

Research question 2: How does gender and race enable or constrain black woman

graduates’ capability for work, including their career development, over time?

Interview questions:

Have you worked before?

The highest job position you have attained?

Do you have a job now?

What are the reasons why you are not working?

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