“Women have been more engaged in paid employment than during any other time in history. Hence, work-life balance has become an important factor for women in career decisions. The purpose of the dissertation is to expand our knowledge about the process of women’s career development”, says Qinghai Huang.

In the dissertation, over 500 women’s career development from age 16 to 43 was examined. The two focus of the dissertation is on the ways that different roles are combined, the types of occupations women choose and the changes they make. The dissertation answers questions like: What do individuals’ long-term career trajectories look like? Do different career trajectories fall into patterns? What factors are related to career patterns? How do occupational careers develop in interaction with other roles? What do different careers bring to people? Does it matter when people study, work, or become parents? Does it matter how long people stay in or away from employment?

“The old view of career, as being based on a stable and life-long engagement in a onetime choice of occupation, is no longer valid. Instead of seeing career as a destination, it should be viewed as a journey that is constantly unfolding. Many aspects of the nature of this journey were uncovered by the studies in this thesis”, says Qinghai Huang.

“Career development is a life-long process. It is a process of constantly balancing different life roles over the life course, as well as a process of constantly fitting oneself to certain types of occupations over time. Moreover, it was observed that paid work was arranged according to its fit into the overall life structure, and that the occupational career development pathway is determined by the life career, manifested in multiple role constellations over the life course”, says Qinghai Huang. He further remarks that “careers may take different paths, and thereby give rise to diversified career patterns. Ways to combine different roles vary significantly in terms of timing and ordering of role transition, and duration of role occupancy, and occupational careers differ considerably in terms of the category of occupations and contour of mobility”.

The dissertation indicates that different career patterns are the result of individual life role values, aspirations and experiences rather than of societal constraints. No matter what ways women choose, be it a work-centered career, family-centered career, or an attempt to be involved in different roles, women tend to be equally happy and healthy. Although it is generally advantageous to have upward mobility or a stable occupational trajectory, certain types of work, such as the professionals, face more stressful work situations and work-family conflicts.

Title of dissertation: The Nature of Women’s Career Development: Determinants and Consequences of Career Patterns

Further information:
Qinghai Huang, phone +46 8 16 39 61, cell phone +46 73 675 50 34, email huangqh@psychology.su.se

For pictures of Qinghai Huang, please contact Maria Sandqvist, +46 8 16 13 77, email maria.sandqvist@eks.su.se

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