Half the Sky
Edited by Cherlyn Skromme Granrose
Chapter 1: Theoretical Perspectives on Women’s Employment Careers in a National Government Context
Cherlyn Skromme Granrose, Irene Hau-Siu Chow and Irene K.H. Chew At the turn of the twenty-ﬁrst century, women held all kinds of occupations from corporate presidents, engineers, lawyers and doctors, to construction workers, homemakers and maids. But in many locations women were not distributed among these occupations in the way that men were distributed, and they were not paid the same as men who held these same occupations (Blackwell, 2003; Cohen, 2004; Burress and Zucca, 2004). This chapter is devoted to theoretical explanations of the careers of women, why the careers of women might diﬀer from the career patterns of men, and in what way the national settings in which women and men live inﬂuence their careers. First, the chapter introduces some basic career vocabulary and career perspectives. The second part of the chapter reviews the competing theoretical models that are used to explain why women’s careers most often result in fewer women attaining top positions in organizational hierarchies, and in women more often being paid less than men. These theoretical perspectives are derived from European and American literature and are supplemented with examples from both Western and Asian empirical work. The chapter also includes a simple theoretical model for how national-level career constructs have an impact on careers, and discusses how these national diﬀerences might aﬀect gender diﬀerences in careers. THEORETICAL CAREER PERSPECTIVES In American and European theory a career is ‘the evolving sequence of a person’s lifelong series of work related experiences...
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