Research project – womens careers – update Oct 2019

As many of you know we are working on a research project with Professor Penny Dick from Sheffield University Management School to look at women’s careers. Penny is a Professor of Organizational Psychology and she has recently obtained some funding from the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants competition to conduct this research.

“I want to examine whether current understandings of “career” adequately reflect and capture the working and non-working experiences of adult women in the United Kingdom. To this end, I am working in collaboration with Jenny and Emma of Women to Work and will be attending three of their Work Life Discovery Coaching Workshops at Sheffield Central Library in order to observe the activities and conversations of the attendees and will work with Jenny and Emma to identify women who might be willing to take part in individual interviews” said Professor Dick.

With Penny having now attended the three workshops and with several interviews having now taken place we thought we’d share with you the core themes that Penny has highlighted that seem to be emerging ……

  1. Women are falling into particular careers rather than this being a path planned and followed.
  2. Transitions are often triggered by life events (birth, bereavement, illness, bad experiences at work) which are generally experienced as liberating
  3. Women are very embedded in terms of their ties to local communities and this is very important to them. However, a couple of women had moved around a lot to further their careers but these were the exception.
  4. Women in relationships with men generally take the role of second earner – the man is the main breadwinner – this is also liberating for many women who feel freer to pursue less financially but more emotionally rewarding roles.
  5. Life events have a profound influence on what women want to do in terms of work and in how much they want to psychologically invest in that work. Work and life are not neatly separable spheres but interpenetrate each other such that work influences thoughts/feelings/behaviours at home and vice versa.
  6. The vast majority of the women enjoy the relational elements of their roles rather than the more technical elements.
  7. Women have a distinct sense of temporality – they are always thinking about the future consequences/impacts of their actions on others and this informs how they make work/life choices.
  8. Connected with this, women continue to bear most of the caring responsibilities in a family and this massively influences and constrains what they do at work and home.


We’ll keep you posted as things progress. It’s fascinating stuff.

More details can be found here.