Barriers to Recruitment of Women to South African Mining Boards




board of directors , barriers , mining, old boys’ network, recruitment criteria, women, glass ceilings


Mining as a historically male-dominated industry in South Africa has legacy issues stemming from colonisation and apartheid, which contributed to gender (and racial) disparities. To address these disparities, corrective measures in the post-apartheid legislation and government policies have aimed to promote equal participation of women in the mining industry at all levels, including key leadership positions such as board memberships. However, despite two decades of enforced legislation, the representation of women in boardrooms remains below 22%. To better understand this issue, qualitative research was conducted through interviews with 28 directors in the South African mining industry. These interviews delved into the recruitment process and the criteria used for selecting directors within the industry. Nkomo and Ngambi’s meso-level framework guided the identification and classification of barriers reported in the literature on obstacles impeding women’s appointment to boards at individual/psychological, organisational/structural, and social/societal levels. Thematic analysis showed the prevalence of organisational and structural prejudices and barriers in the recruitment process and criteria. The male-dominated nomination committees drive recruitment by selecting acquaintances from their own networks whom they overpower in decision-making. This network reinforces the old boys’ club and glass ceilings, contributing to the lower confidence of women. This research recommends organisational structural policy-level changes to accelerate female board recruitment by imposing at least 40% female board representation. A balanced gender role combination of chief executive officer and chairman positions on each board is likely to break barriers associated with the male-dominated boardroom culture and practices.


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How to Cite

Moraka, Nthabiseng. 2023. “Barriers to Recruitment of Women to South African Mining Boards”. Gender Questions 11 (2):26 pages .



Received 2023-07-28
Accepted 2023-09-20
Published 2023-12-01