Original Research - Special Collection: Troubling normative constructions in careers

The job interview experiences of a Namibian transgender teacher graduate in pursuing employment

Rauna K. Haitembu, Emilia N. Mbongo, Anthony Brown
African Journal of Career Development | Vol 5, No 1 | a94 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajcd.v5i1.94 | © 2023 Rauna K. Haitembu, Emilia N. Mbongo, Anthony Brown | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 May 2023 | Published: 23 August 2023

About the author(s)

Rauna K. Haitembu, Department of Applied Educational Sciences, Faculty of Education and Human Sciences, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
Emilia N. Mbongo, Department of Applied Educational Sciences, Faculty of Education and Human Sciences, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
Anthony Brown, Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Previous research about transgender people’s workplace experiences has confirmed intense levels of discrimination and prejudice. There is a particular silence on trans people’s experiences in the job interview.

Objective: The objective of this study was to explore how transgender people are dealt with in job interviews.

Method: This single case-study approach explore the experiences of transgender youth in presenting for a job interview. An in-depth semi-structured interview was the primary data-collection method. Content analysis was applied to the data and yielded a discussion focusing on the various job interview experiences affecting perceived discrimination, career aspirations and personal well-being.

Results: This study describes how Selma, a transgender woman, was subjected to overt discrimination based on her gender expressions considered incongruent with expected norms. Her feminine voice and mannerisms resulted in her being ridiculed and humiliated during the interview process. In some instances, the interview process was interrupted in a hostile manner to confirm whether she was a man or a woman or to pressure her to speak like a man. This study suggests that the Namibian labour market insists on compulsory cis-heteronormative embodiment.

Conclusion: This study calls for awareness training about transgender people and workplace inclusivity. It also recommends that employers develop and implement a post-interview feedback tool to explore invited interviewees’ experiences.

Contribution: This study highlights how job interviews, as an entry requirement to the job market, are riddled with prejudices, stereotypes of and discrimination towards transgender people.


Keywords

transgender; cisgender; heteronormativity; job interview discrimination; gender stereotypes; career aspirations.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 5: Gender equality

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