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Black Girl Magic or Queen Bee: An Exploration of Gendered Leadership in South Africa

Aradhana Ramnund-Mansingh (MANCOSA, South Africa)

African Leadership: Powerful Paradigms for the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-80117-046-8, eISBN: 978-1-80117-045-1

Publication date: 14 March 2023


As a result of diminishing numbers of women in executive leadership portfolios, the study sought to glean underlying reasons in the light of supportive legislation in South Africa supporting gender development in the workplace. A qualitative study was conducted within a South African business context to explore the notions and perceptions that fracture gendered leadership. The lived experience narratives were analyzed into themes, with a systematic review of existing scientific academic literature. The study was dominated by two concepts, as the paradox of black girl magic and the queen bee syndrome among black women in leadership were reported by the different narratives. The contradictions that each of these concepts represents provides the structural inequities experienced by black women in business. Of prominence in the findings was the alignment of women to the boys’ network, irrespective of whether in a leadership role or not. The study is underpinned primarily by the theory of intersectionality which contextualizes the intersections of race and gender aligned to the structural inequities and the social constructions of reality. This will be intensified by Bordieu's theory of masculine domination which exposes the underlying enigmas of the unholy alliance with the boys’ network. A clear distinction is analyzed with the exploration of black girl magic which alludes to the positive attributes that black women can bring into leadership roles, but their success and manner of leading is mangled with the negative aspects of the queen bee syndrome which entrench further subjugation of women.



Ramnund-Mansingh, A. (2023), "Black Girl Magic or Queen Bee: An Exploration of Gendered Leadership in South Africa", Elkington, R., Ngunjiri, F.W., Burgess, G.J., Majola, X., Schwella, E. and de Klerk, N. (Ed.) African Leadership: Powerful Paradigms for the 21st Century, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 137-151.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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