Rebooting and rerouting: women’s articulations of frayed careers in science, engineering and technology professions

Herman, Clem (2015). Rebooting and rerouting: women’s articulations of frayed careers in science, engineering and technology professions. Gender, Work & Organization, 22(4) pp. 324–338.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12088

Abstract

This paper expands on previous work about women’s non-linear and frayed careers by examining the experiences of women who have attempted to return to science, engineering and technology (SET) professions in the UK and Republic of Ireland after taking a career break. These women potentially offer an important perspective on gender and career, because of the deep rooted gendered associations of science and technology with masculinity. Drawing on qualitative interviews with women SET professionals, the paper identifies three narratives – Rebooting, Rerouting and Retreating – which women use to talk about their careers. Some of these women present themselves as career changers having often made compromises and trade-offs, while others who have returned to their substantive professions, focus on continuity in their career narratives. The precarious nature of their careers is also apparent and in some cases leads to opting out or Retreating. The paper concludes by exploring how women’s scientist and technical identities persist, even among those who had not returned to work, and are drawn on in narratives of return and career change.

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