Journal of
African Studies and Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Afr. Stud. Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2189
  • DOI: 10.5897/JASD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 234

Full Length Research Paper

Breaking the glass ceiling: A study of single academic women in one Zimbabwean university

Machibaya Etwin
  • Machibaya Etwin
  • Department of Teacher Development, School of Education and Culture, Great Zimbabwe University, Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar
Ndamba Gamuchirai Tsitsi
  • Ndamba Gamuchirai Tsitsi
  • Research, Innovation and Quality Assurance Unit, Reformed Church University, Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 October 2022
  •  Accepted: 08 December 2022
  •  Published: 31 January 2023


The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that contributed to the success of single women lecturers who had hit the glass ceiling to become some of the respected PhD holders and professors at one university in Zimbabwe. The study employs the Africana Womanism theory, whereby the effects of the core independent dimensions of the theory are analyzed, namely; self-naming, self-defining, strength and ambition. Using the qualitative research approach, the research employed a case study design where in-depth interviews were used to collect data. Ten single female lecturers who are heads of families were purposively sampled from two departments under the School of Education. Data analysis was done using thematic coding. Findings indicate that factors which assisted single-mother lecturers to achieve their goals in their careers include positive attitudes, strong personalities, mentorship from colleagues and self-motivation. Recommendations were made for universities to promote factors which empower single women lecturers through facilitating discussions of identity issues, eliminating the obstacles that prevent them from advancing, and fostering work environments that allow them to work collaboratively in order to break the glass ceiling.


Key words: Glass ceiling, family, single parenting, women empowerment.