Challenges and Opportunities
Edited by Debra A. Major and Ronald J. Burke
Chapter 6: Career priorities and pathways across the (gendered) life course
Three key social transformations – a changing workforce, the changing social contract between employers and employees (as a result of the new global risk economy), and changing temporal and spatial boundaries (tied to new information technologies as well as a competitive global workforce) – are revealing internal inconsistencies in the taken-for-granted clockworks of work-hours, career paths and retirement timing, as well as in labor market, job, and economic security policies and practices. Existing organizational and governmental regimes are based on the career mystique that developed in the US and Europe in the middle of the twentieth century, a belief that continuous, full-time employment (which often includes moving up organizational or occupational ladders), culminating in the full-time leisure of retirement is the (only) path to the good life (Moen and Roehling, 2005). Yet this template is at odds with the twenty-first century professional workforce, consisting primarily of men and women who are either single or else married to another (often professional) employee, and thus without backup on the home front.
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