Women in STEM Careers

Women in STEM Careers

International Perspectives on Increasing Workforce Participation, Advancement and Leadership

Edited by Diana Bilimoria and Linley Lord

Adopting an international perspective, this book draws on current research from the United States, Australia and Europe examining women’s participation, advancement and leadership in STEM fields. The book explores the nature of STEM careers across industry and academia, and presents the latest thinking on successful individual, organisational and educational initiatives related to women in STEM. An invaluable resource for scholars, practitioners and policy-makers in organisations and government, as well as for women aspiring to or presently working in STEM fields.

Chapter 11: Dare to care: Negotiating organizational norms on combining career and care in an engineering faculty

Channah Herschberg, Claartje J. Vinkenburg, Inge L. Bleijenbergh and Marloes L. van Engen

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, gender and management, human resource management


The demands inherent to combining career and care responsibilities experienced by growing numbers of academics have been well documented (King, 2008; Schiebinger, Henderson and Gilmartin, 2008). The combination of an academic career and care is complicated by the notion of the ideal academic as “someone who gives total priority to work and has no outside interests and responsibilities” (Bailyn, 2003, p._139), which still appears to be the existing norm within academia (e.g., Bleijenbergh, Van Engen and Vinkenburg, 2013). Academics are typically described as “committed solely to scientific discovery and, […] in an androcentric manner, thought free from the requirements of self-care and the care of others” (Aulenbacher and Riegraf, 2010, p._66). Norms are an important component of organizational culture (Schein, 1990). We define them as manifestations of “shared, taken-for-granted implicit assumptions that a group holds and that determines how it perceives, thinks about, and reacts to its various environments” (Schein, 1996, p._236). Norms influence organizational behavior as they take descriptive and prescriptive forms in determining “how we do things around here” (Sun, 2008), and enable organization members to anticipate each other’s actions (Feldman, 1984). Members need to learn what the existing organizational norms are, usually by means of socialization (Wiener, 1982), and how to cope with them (Schein, 1990). Poelmans (2012) developed a multilayered model or typology of different ways of dealing with organizational norms on combining career and care.

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