|dc.description.abstract||The purpose of this study is to determine women's perceptions and choices of
different categories of occupations and the reasons for such choices. Since the
installation of the first democratic post apartheid government in South Africa, national
policy has advanced women's rights. Affirmative action has opened up opportunities
previously closed to women, but there is little research documenting changes in career
trends. The influence of race, gender, social and political changes on perceptions and
choices of occupations of women in the country is not known. This study has focused
on African and Indian females in the 15 to 60 age range in the greater Durban area.
Women born between 1940 and 1985 have experience of the pre- and post apartheid
era, and therefore changes in perceptions and choices could be investigated. A survey
questionnaire was administered to 390 female learners in seven former Indian schools.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 African and Indian women; six
daughters in non - traditional occupations and six mothers in traditional occupations.
The results from the survey and interviews suggest that women have a strong sense of
empowerment and do not regard gender as a barrier to occupational choices. A
limited number of occupations were categorized as suitable for men only, while the
majority were deemed suitable for both men and women. Survey data indicated that
African learners were more conservative in their choices than Indian learners.
Interviews with the older women however, revealed that African women were more
positive about opportunities open to them in the new South Africa. Detailed family
profiles suggest that socio - economic factors rather than parental influence, impacted
on decision-making patterns. The unique experiences of women in this country, who
have been subject to political and social pressures of the apartheid policy and the
rapid change of the post apartheid era, must be documented before any theoretical
positions can be articulated about the career development of South African women.
This study has contributed to research on the career development of women by
providing some insight into how a sector of African and Indian women perceive and