Recognising the constraints that affect professional women’s choices: how do Australian women develop and grow in their professional lives?

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Mate, Susan (2013) Recognising the constraints that affect professional women’s choices: how do Australian women develop and grow in their professional lives? PhD thesis, Victoria University.

Abstract

This study explored the way women of different age groups experience development and growth in their professional lives and how they made sense of that development and growth. Narrative research methods were used to analyse the dialogue that the women in this study present as significant to their development and growth. Differences and similarities in the ways women of two groups told their stories are analysed based on narrative data and gender literature that provides a basis to understand how women have grown in their careers and work. The findings suggest that women of different life stages emphasise different choices and constraints that relate to the ways they are recognised in their work and each woman in this study was seen to offer a unique story about her experience of development and growth. Behind the dominant narrative of career progression there was a gender-specific counter narrative; that of coming to terms with a male-dominated work culture. This was particularly the case for the older group of women (the senior life stage). The findings indicate that women at different life stages define effectiveness and value differently, and that groups (who belong to a particular professional role and age range) share collective experiences concerning what it means to be effective in their work. The narrative approach used here has highlighted the significance of reflective practice and the important role workplace culture plays in constructing social discourses. Life stage appears to have an effect on the career progression of women and the culture in which stories are constructed affects development and growth of women in the Australian workplace.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/25085
Subjects Current > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Current > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Business
Keywords professional development, growth, work, gender narrative, stories, experiences, Australia
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