ALTHOUGH massive strides have been made in the development of policies to empower women in the workplace, women still have to "fight harder" to compete against their male counterparts.
This is according to vice-president of Business Unity South Africa (Busa) Brenda Madumise, who was in Port Elizabeth last week to share her 25 years' experience in industry with Nelson Mandela Bay businesswomen as the guest speaker at the local Business Women's Association of South Africa (Bwasa) annual general meeting.
She said policies had been developed to place women on an equal footing with men in the workplace, but very little had been done to address other challenges.
"Nothing has been done to change the environment women in business find themselves in or the psyche of both men and women," said Madumise. "Whether we like it or not, when a board seat opens today, no one's first reaction is to suggest a woman for the position. The only way this will happen is if someone vouches for her. We just have to fight harder."
She said women were often their own worst enemies. "When we are called to take the lead, we have endless excuses why we can't."
Another challenge was networking. "We are really bad at networking. Our role as a woman often gets in the way. After work men will go to the pub to network. When we clock out, we take over the role as nurturer. We go home to take care of the children and the family."
She said this was where organisations like Bwasa played a massive role. "More women need to get together and find ways of changing their lot."