Week 4: Issues and strategies for managing work in SET (II)

The second source provided is:

‘Career and motherhood in engineering: cultural dimensions and individualistic solutions’ by Julia Evetts in the Journal of Gender Studies, July 1994, vol 3 issue 2, pages 177–185.

The author of this paper has used 15 specific women’s careers as a means of investigating:

“…how women reconcile being women, being in partnerships and sometimes families, being professional engineers and building careers in an industrial organization.”

That sounds like a reasonable approach, although I’d love to see a similar study on the difficulties men face in reconciling being in partnerships and families with being professional engineers!

One option, and that taken by four women in the study, was to choose to remain child-free and focus on the career.  The author noted that while successful, this was a particularly harsh choice, and one not faced (or not faced to the same extent) by career-minded men.

“…it seems that for both men and women to succeed in career terms, they must severely curtail the demands of personal and family lives.”

For the mothers in the study, the norm appeared to be that each had to negotiate her own working conditions directly with her immediate manager, and then on up the line of command.

One of the women was on a career break negotiated with her employers after the birth of her (unexpected) third child.

“It is a great responsibility in fact to see how it works.  I have felt that all along.  So few women have taken part-time working or career breaks or come back after maternity leave in the company, that if I don’t perform well they will say it doesn’t work, we won’t try it again.”

All the women commented on how difficult it was to achieve the balance they wanted between career and motherhood, and on the need to focus on what their employer needed/wanted over and above what they needed/wanted, and on how each woman would need a different solution to her own situation.

“They followed the examples set by other women engineers in the company but they did not expect company arrangements or trade union procedures to help solve their problems.”

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