The Unseen Force: Understanding South Africa's Working Women

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The Unseen Force: Understanding South Africa's Working Women

South Africa's workforce is undergoing a significant shift. Women are surpassing men in educational attainment, creating a deep pool of qualified talent. But are businesses capitalising on this opportunity? A recent Working Women in SA report by RecruitMyMom suggests they're not. Despite their qualifications, women's labour force participation is ten percent lower than men's.

The report highlights a powerful truth: skilled South African working women are a strategic business asset. 

Here's why:


Women are outpacing men in education


Currently, women make up fifty-two percent of individuals with post-secondary qualifications, signifying a substantial and growing presence in higher education. 

This trend extends to STEM fields, where women now represent forty-seven percent of graduates across all levels at African universities. Notably, girls accounted for a significant fifty-six percent of matriculation candidates in the 2023 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. 

This compelling data paints a clear picture: women in South Africa are achieving remarkable educational prowess. The benefits of this educational surge are far-reaching. A strong educational foundation equips women with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking necessary to succeed in every sphere of life. Higher education unlocks even greater opportunities, preparing women for leadership roles in business. 

With a wider pool of qualified women entering the workforce, the potential for innovation, economic growth, and social progress becomes limitless. This shift in educational attainment promises a brighter future for women in South Africa, allowing them to compete for and excel in middle, senior and C-suite positions.


Women are career-growth-motivated


The Working Women report reveals that a staggering seventy-eight percent of women in the workforce aspire to career growth. This ambition translates to a dedicated and motivated group of employees who strive for excellence. 

When businesses invest in clear paths for advancement and create opportunities for women to develop their skills, they unlock a powerful driver of company growth. 

Retaining experienced and ambitious women through various life stages, by offering compelling reasons to remain in their careers translates to a more stable and successful organisation.


A multifaceted drive to want to work


Twenty-one percent of women in the Working Women report stated that the salary offered was the most appealing factor when looking for a job. When asked to rank expected benefits in order of importance, bonuses featured in the top three, along with medical aid and pension fund benefits.



This financially driven motivation comes from eighty percent of women having dependents and thirty-seven percent being sole-income earners. 

By understanding this financially driven motivation, businesses can entice top female talent, benefiting diversity within, by offering better financial rewards and medical aid contributions than the competition.


Women will choose full-time hours, hybrid jobs first


Irrespective of age, most women (fifty-five percent) in the Working Women 2024 report will choose full-time hours, and fifty-nine percent of working women choose to work in a hybrid work environment. 

Women in senior positions increasingly value work-life balance, with sixty percent seeking part-time or shortened workweeks. Organisations can attract and retain senior female talent by integrating flexible work arrangements. Offering reduced hours or shortened workweeks aligns with the evolving needs of more senior women in the workforce, ultimately strengthening one's retention strategy for senior and executive staff.

Younger mothers, aged 25-34, tend to favour reduced work week or part-time working hour options to allow for the flexibility of caring for young children. Women residing in townships predominantly seek hybrid work and have the largest percentage of women wanting to work in-office, despite being a small percentage overall of the township-based respondents. 



Knowing how age and type of dwelling impact women’s preferences and offering the required work arrangements, businesses will attract and retain skilled women at all levels of seniority.


Unlocking South Africa's Potential


The insights are clear: South Africa's highly skilled and ambitious female workforce is underutilised and waiting to be unleashed. By understanding the motivations and preferences of skilled women in South Africa, businesses can unlock this future and current female talent pool and achieve sustained growth, as well as more inclusivity. 

RecruityMom is a female-focused recruitment company with access to hundreds of thousands of top female talent in over 250 different skills.  Trust us to find you top-female talent. We understand female talent best. 

RecruitMyMom is an award-winning recruitment company that places skilled women in permanent, contract, and independent contracting jobs. Visit our website to post a job.