Edited by Susan Vinnicombe, Ronald J. Burke, Stacy Blake-Beard and Lynda L. Moore
Chapter 3: Sprinters, marathoners and relay runners: profiles of women’s career development over time
How do professional women’s careers develop over time? What patterns encapsulate the career progression of professional women? What can women do to sustain their career progression over time? In this chapter we address these and other questions related to professional women’s career development by using the analogy of running a race to describe women professionals in three distinct phases of their careers as identified by O’Neil and Bilimoria (2005), sprinters in the idealistic achievement career phase, marathoners in the pragmatic endurance phase, and relay runners in the re-inventive contribution phase. Based on biographical data collected from interviews with 60 women professionals, we create composite profiles illustrative of women in each career phase. We provide strategic actions that women can undertake in each phase of their careers in order to sustain their career momentum over time. We also describe organizational actions to support women’s career development.
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