Font Size: a A A

Career Development And Gender Construction Of Successful Women Professionals

Posted on:2008-07-30Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:G XuFull Text:PDF
GTID:1117360212491377Subject:Vocational and Technical Education
Abstract/Summary:PDF Full Text Request
This dissertation is an educational empirical study on women's career development and self-development within a transitional modern society in contemporary China. This research work has not just analyzed the process of career development and gender construction for women professionals, but also coined the concept of Standing-on Learning Power in career development, defined the modern femininity and categorized the styles of gender construction. Meanwhile, researcher's efforts during the research process of practicing and re-contextualizing RUC's Life History Approach, has made the research methodology itself get widening.This project has been originated from those mountains of worldwide controversial issues and questions upon women professionals, which has projected the essential research notions, career development and gender into the academic agenda. In other words, gender does have an influential effect on career development, while career development and success do interfere with personal gender consciousness and its social presentation. Therefore, those successful learning and developmental stories from professional women might shed special light on the modern vocational educational research, which casts an understanding concern upon the interrelations among lifelong learning practice, career development and self-upgrading activities.Through relevant literature review, researcher finds out that both the subjective side of the career holders and the gender understandings out of interaction between individual and social context, are nothing more than an accumulating learning process along with life experiences. Based on the idea of lifelong learning, researcher borrowed theories and concepts about experiential learning and contextual learning from Dewey, Vygotskji, Lave & Wenger, Leithauser, Sailing Olesen & Weber, Anderson and Illeris as her theoretical structure, and then set her two core research goals: one is to explore how has the learning power for career development formed through experience, the other one is how do women construct gender among the multifold life contexts including workplace, marriage, family and social life. Holding a firm mission and deep concern to facilitate women's entering the liberal and full development track through career development, researcher has been sticking to her research journey by empirical data production and analysis.This study is based on a qualitative research method named Life History Approach from Roskilde University of a critical theory tradition. By employing the method of autobiographical narrative interview, researcher produced 9 texts transcribed from successful Chinese women directors employed by local foreign capital invested companies. By integrating multidisciplinary theories including the cognitive learning scheme(Piaget), self-presentation in everyday life(Goffman), the reproduction of mothering(Chodorow), gaining autonomy based on the intimacy mother-daughter relations (Nielsen & Rudberg), identification(Craib, Hollway), family bound obstacles for integrating with social culture(Frued), cultural identity and marginal position(Hall), Narcissism (Pulver), by stimulating the transference and counter-transference relations between the researcher herself and text, as well as relying on her understandings towards Hermeneutic and utilizing interpretation techniques of her personal creation and style, each story was interpreted to expose how the subjective life experience exerts influence on career development and gender construction. The text analysis has not only investigated the supporting mechanisms of experience to career development based on each case, but also illuminated how has each woman director developed her perception and reaction towards gender, feminism, as well as gender identity within life history in an explicit way.By taking the human being's subjectivity oriented Life History Approach, the study started from the individual successful professional woman's learning experience to draw educational insight, but the purpose is by no means merely to understand an individual case. Since the development experience of successful professional women could be seen as an interacted connection between agency and structure including one's living context, communications, social variances, career development, family relations etc., therefore the personal meaning making process could be understood through the lifelong learning practice embedded in personal experience. In this way, the learning obstacles and impetus could be unfolded for education to interfere properly.On the Learning Power for career development, the researcher has three main findings:1. Based on the text analysis of women learning promoting factors out of experience, referring to theoretical elements from Grow's demands theory, female narcissism, external educational factors for development, human motivation theory from Maslow, and Simmel's dialectic within metropolis, the researcher concludes four resources to form the learning power: encouragement from family members, recognition from social interactions, stimuli from organizations and living surroundings, and material consuming demands.2. The researcher has coined her concept in the name of Standing-on Learning Power, which means a stable learning mental situation when the learner has been able to react towards a certain meaning relation that one has formulated through one's personal interaction with social context. Based on the text analysis findings, the researcher divides the Standing-on learning Power into three types: a harmonious inter-personal relation oriented drive, a referential external object oriented drive and an internal demand oriented drive.3. Taking the concept of Emotional Labor from Hochschild as a point of departure, researcher maintains that nowadays-professional women cannot get career success without investing their emotions to work. As a matter of fact, emotion is a power to facilitate the learning power at work. Based on text analysis, women directors have consciously or unconsciously identified themselves with certain image figures, either mother/teacher or others such as maid, student and even sports athlete, through which they gain emotional power to mediate their work attitude, ethics and relations. All those figures were formed through their particular life experiences, and in particularly relevant with their mother-daughter relations within original family.On the contributing elements for career development learning from social economic surroundings, the researcher generalized three aspects.1. Free job hunting and job-hopping have provided a learning possibility through making career choice and planning career development.2. Their sound educational background has met with the huge demands for foreign business talent during late 1980s till middle 1990s, a period characterized by intensive direct foreign capital investment poured inside mainland whilst lack of local human resource equipped with foreign language competence and college education, therefore historical opportunities provided a fast promoting ladder for elite young professionals and college students to learn their professions and to achieve immediate success.3. Social labor division and modern corporate management have jointly provided its employee a track for professional learning and development.On the traits of femininity, this study puts successful professional women as the referential group. By tracking their learning and developmental process during the social transitional period from ordinary girl students or female workers in the traditional planned economy to the influential figure in market economy, with theoretical supports from psychological maturation (Abramson), the economic thought of developmental history (DeLong), Anomie and marginalized position (Li), researcher summarizes 5 traits of modern femininities, i.e. cooperativeness, plasticity, richness, materialistic and fashion.In the end, this study puts the interactive space between work and life as the front stage for professional women's gender construction project, and brings forwards two findings:1. The way women perceive and expect the gender relations inside their nuclear marriage family has far-reaching relations with their original family experience and learning. They tend to form a gender relation of copying or/and compensating with what their parents used to have done or they have experienced by themselves as a family member in their original families.2. Standing in-between work and life, professional women have three ways to deal with both simultaneously, which could be regarded as three stages on the way for women achieving liberal and full development. Those in the first stage are passively slaved by meeting the external demands from organization and society, leaving no space for the desire power of their own. It is difficult for them to organize their personal life according to their own will. Those in the second stage have mixed their own needs and the requirement from society, organization and family members. They try to manage work and life both actually by sacrificing their own desires. Those in the third stage devote all the heart, mind and body into work and life in a joyful way and with a relaxed style. They do not necessarily have kid or even marriage, but they have quality emotional life and authentic interest towards work.Since this research project is not only an qualitative research, but also an effort to borrow and re-contextualize a Scandinavian educational research method, therefore the dissertation particularly cultivates its last chapter to present personal review and reflections upon those key stages of this research project, the characteristics and limitations of the Life History Approach, the operation and function of interpretation group, as well as using the researcher's feelings as her powerful research instrument.The dissertation has three parts including seven chapters, which are embedding four interactions within: Part I is Research Foundation, Part II is Interpretations and Group Summaries, and Chapter III is Research Findings.1. Chapter 1 (Prelude) and Part II (Interpretation and Group Summaries) plus Chapter 6(Research Questions and Findings) have an interaction similar to questions and answers. The research questions raised in Chapter 1 are addressed and answered in the ongoing interpretation and generalization coming afterwards.2. The interaction between Chapter 2(Research Method and Process) and Part II (Interpretations and Group Summaries). Chapter 2 functions as both a methodological theoretical leading role and a practice description of the whole research process. Part 2 (including Chapter 3,4,5) is the exercising and exhibition corresponding to the methodology and method in Chapter 2.3. Part II and Chapter 6(Research Questions and Findings) are closely connected because the research findings are summarized or generalized based on the text interpretation.4. Chapter 2(Research Method and Process) as well as Chapter 7(Review and Reflections) each holds a semicircle to make the holistic effort for unfolding the Life History Approach including its theoretical concepts, as well as personal practice, review, evaluation and reflections.
Keywords/Search Tags:Female Professionals, Career Development, Gender Construction, Life History
PDF Full Text Request
Related items