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Imagining Women's Careers$
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Laurie Cohen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697199

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697199.001.0001

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Developing Careers through Time

Developing Careers through Time

(p.95) 6 Developing Careers through Time
Imagining Women's Careers

Laurie Cohen

Oxford University Press

The chapter examines how women describe their career development, drawing on key contributions to the literature on women’s careers: e.g. stages, phases versus the life course; agency and communion, the ‘kaleidoscope’ career. To delve more deeply, the analysis focuses primarily on our respondents. It highlights four key limitations of existing understandings. First, it takes issue with the ‘stage’ metaphor, arguing that metaphors of the life course more adequately capture women’s evolving trajectories. Second, it challenges the implicit voluntarism in much of the extant literature, highlighting the notion of the career as a social process, embedded in dynamic, sometimes conflicting and often constraining contexts. Third, more specifically it argues that ‘balance’ and ‘challenge’ are better conceptualized as reciprocal and inextricable than as fundamentally different. Finally, the chapter questions the tendency in the literature to downplay the material importance of work in women’s lives.

Keywords:   career development, gender, phase, stage, life course, agency and communion, challenge, balance, authenticity

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