Handbook of Research on Promoting Women’s Careers
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Handbook of Research on Promoting Women’s Careers

Edited by Susan Vinnicombe, Ronald J. Burke, Stacy Blake-Beard and Lynda L. Moore

In a changing world where women have dominated as graduates from universities in the West, recent research has shown that the same trend is also strikingly evident in the newly emerging markets. Tapping into this female talent pool is extremely important and advancing women’s careers has become a key business issue. This Handbook lays out a number of promising approaches. First the business case for doing so is presented. The challenges facing women are reviewed, followed by various programs that address particular needs such as mentoring, leadership development programs for women, work and family initiatives, and succession planning. Finally, case studies of award-winning organizational initiatives are described.
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Chapter 3: Sprinters, marathoners and relay runners: profiles of women’s career development over time

Deborah A. O’Neil, Margaret M. Hopkins and Diana Bilimoria


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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