Women scientists and engineers in European companies: putting motherhood under the microscope

Herman, Clem; Lewis, Suzan and Humbert, Ann Laure (2013). Women scientists and engineers in European companies: putting motherhood under the microscope. Gender Work and Organisation, 20(5) pp. 467–478.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0432.2012.00596.x

Abstract

Unlike the rise in women’s participation in other professional sectors, women still only form a minority of professional scientists and engineers especially in multinational companies. Moreover, embedded gendered cultures within the science engineering and technology sectors continue to affect the career progression of this group of professional women, with few reaching senior management positions and many leaving and failing to return. This paper examines the experiences of women professional scientists and engineers in three European energy sector companies in France, Netherlands and Italy and illustrates how their careers are shaped not only by the corporate cultures and practices but also by the specific national contexts in which they live and work. In particular we look at how motherhood rather than gender alone is constructed as problematic, and propose a model of strategies that women adopt in doing motherhood and SET, including Assimilation, Breaking the Mold, Lying Low and Cul-de-Sac.

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