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Opting out: professional women develop reflexive agency

Opting out: professional women develop reflexive agency While previous research on opting out has been mainly about women who leave their careers altogether, the purpose of this paper is to follow a broader definition of opting out to investigate the process and experience of women developing agency as they leave masculinist career patterns to adopt alternative career solutions.Design/methodology/approachBuilding on an interdisciplinary framework and a narrative approach, this paper analyses the opting out and in processes of women managers in Finland and the USA.FindingsThis paper demonstrates four micro-strategies that the women used to develop individual agency in their processes of opting out of masculinist career models and opting in to alternative solutions for work. These micro-strategies are redefining career success, transcending boundaries, renegotiating working conditions and keeping in touch with professional networks.Practical implicationsOrganisational leaders can use the knowledge of the strategies that empower women in their opting out processes when making decisions regarding working practices. In order to retain their employees, organisations should be supportive of employees’ individual agency and their participation in developing work structures, as well as providing more opportunities for two-way blurring between work and family instead of the current one-way blurring where work spills over to family life, increasing work-family conflict.Originality/valueThis paper develops a framework to better understand women’s agency during the process of opting out of corporate careers and opting in to solutions like part-time work and self-employment, deepening the current understanding of these solutions and presenting the micro-strategies they use to develop reflexive agency. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Equality Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Opting out: professional women develop reflexive agency

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References (66)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2040-7149
DOI
10.1108/edi-06-2018-0097
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

While previous research on opting out has been mainly about women who leave their careers altogether, the purpose of this paper is to follow a broader definition of opting out to investigate the process and experience of women developing agency as they leave masculinist career patterns to adopt alternative career solutions.Design/methodology/approachBuilding on an interdisciplinary framework and a narrative approach, this paper analyses the opting out and in processes of women managers in Finland and the USA.FindingsThis paper demonstrates four micro-strategies that the women used to develop individual agency in their processes of opting out of masculinist career models and opting in to alternative solutions for work. These micro-strategies are redefining career success, transcending boundaries, renegotiating working conditions and keeping in touch with professional networks.Practical implicationsOrganisational leaders can use the knowledge of the strategies that empower women in their opting out processes when making decisions regarding working practices. In order to retain their employees, organisations should be supportive of employees’ individual agency and their participation in developing work structures, as well as providing more opportunities for two-way blurring between work and family instead of the current one-way blurring where work spills over to family life, increasing work-family conflict.Originality/valueThis paper develops a framework to better understand women’s agency during the process of opting out of corporate careers and opting in to solutions like part-time work and self-employment, deepening the current understanding of these solutions and presenting the micro-strategies they use to develop reflexive agency.

Journal

Equality Diversity and Inclusion: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 9, 2019

Keywords: Women; Agency; Work-life balance; Flexible careers; Masculinist career patterns; Opting out

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