To reflect the dual reality of “traditional career ladders” or “orderliness” as well as the recognition of more fluid, or “disordered” career paths, we characterized women’s career patterns as ordered or emergent. An ordered career pattern is characterized by stable, predictable movement through organizational hierarchies, is strategically planned and executed, reflective of choiceful learning opportunities, and may involve long term planning to accommodate other life roles. An example of an ordered career pattern is the following statement by Alex about her progress in the field of human resources: I answered an ad in the newspaper for my first job, which was a human resources assistant. I interviewed, got the job and they offered me $20,000 and it was a really good experience, but a year and a half or so into it I realized that if I wanted upward potential in the organization I would have had to move. So I interviewed with [another organization] and the HR department was 12 people, so it was larger and offered more opportunity without being overwhelming and they offered me $28,000 which was staggering. From there I managed an employee benefits integration process and then became the benefits manager (Alex: 6). An emergent career pattern reflects a more reactive than proactive series of job/career moves, unexpected twists and turns, serendipitous events, interruptions for non-career activities, and may be designed to accommodate aspects of one’s life other than traditional work. An example of an emergent career pattern follows: I sold flowers on the weekend for cash so I could have money for my kid . . . I mean, I struggled a lot. And I do not glamorize it. It was terrible. But there was also this kind of freedom I had to bring my kid to school, and feed him, and stuff like that. That was very important to me. So in other words, I developed what was important to me, and would find a job that would allow me to accommodate my life as opposed to my life accommodating to work (Ethel: 14). Career locus. The locus of a career describes the focal point from which career orientation, motivation, and success emanate. Rotter (1992) described the concept of Career development phases 173
locus of control in terms of learning, as skill vs chance; an internal locus of control linked to such concepts as planning, persistence, and problem solving, and an external locus of control linked to such concepts as passivity and dependency. In the present study women with an external career locus are not seen in Rotter’s (1992) terms as passive or dependent but rather that their career and life choices have been more other-directed than self-directed, a reframing of the external-internal dynamic. An external career locus is reflected in the belief that an individual’s career opportunities and career success are due more to chance or luck, external interventions such as others offering her career opportunities or taking them away, or as a result of organizational interventions such as down-sizing or bureaucratic rules. An example of
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- Fall '19