A black woman’s perspective on understanding transformation and diversity in South African higher education
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Background: Today, transformation and diversity are concepts that form an integral part of the functioning of higher education institutions globally. These two concepts have drawn vast amounts of interest from scholars who work in the field of higher education studies. Aim: The current article considers the perspectives of black women academics in an exploration of the concepts of transformation and diversity. This standpoint approach brings to the fore the voices of black women in the changing higher education landscape, in an attempt to provide an understanding of prevailing gender inequalities. Setting: The study was conducted at one higher education institution, involving women academics from different faculties and different social backgrounds. Methods: The adoption of a gender approach sheds light on a social justice perspective that higher education institutions in South Africa aspire to attain. The article reports on 12 black women’s configuration of transformation and diversity from a gender perspective in a country where gender in higher education has always been an issue of contention. Results: The inclusion of four white women academics in the study served the goal of contrasting their views with those of the black women, to illuminate the intersectionality of race and gender in human experiences. A thematic analysis of data highlights the complexities of understanding the role of institutional management, self-responsibility and self-awareness in transformation and diversification processes. The role of different standpoints in understanding transformation also came out strongly in the findings. Conclusion: It can, therefore, be concluded that standpoints play a crucial role in meaning making and experiences of transformation for women academics in institutions of higher learning.