An investigation into the reciprocal relationship between gender and careers

  • Katharine Mcatamney

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Previous research into the supply-side causes of gender segregation in the workplace, i.e., career aspirations and choices, has identified that gender, particularly masculinity, can explain some of the variance in aspirations. However, there are several flaws with this line of research, including the measurement and conceptualisation of gender, and in that it does not explain how or why gender is related to career aspirations and choices. Here, I propose a process of ‘dynamic fit’ to explain the relationship between gender and careers, in which individuals choose careers that ‘fit’ with their gender, but gender can also be changed to ‘fit’ with gendered careers. In this thesis, I aimed to examine: a) how contextual information influences the relationship between gender and careers, b) how gender influences careers, and c) how careers influence gender. Over five studies, I found that good ‘fit’ between gender and organisational culture can promote women’s aspirations and expectations, gender norms around work and home can vary this fit, and gender can be influenced by careers-based information. Altogether, this provides some support for the process of ‘dynamic fit’. Therefore, these findings highlight that there is a need for a new theory that explains the process by which gender and careers are linked, and I propose elements that need to be incorporated into this theory, such as a ‘doing’ gender approach, and a reciprocal relationship between gender and careers.
Date of Award23 Nov 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorLaura G. E. Smith (Supervisor) & Edmund Keogh (Supervisor)


  • Careers

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