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Adding Her Voice to the Narrative: Career Development Experiences of Women in Engineering Open Access

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Existing theories of career development do not adequately address women whose careers develop differently than men’s. While women’s workforce participation rates indicate consistent growth, in some occupations, such as engineering, the disparities are immense. Many organizations have started to create environments that are supportive of more contemporary career development needs, specifically that of women’s. Despite these efforts, norms do not always support the participation in or use of programs such as telework, the promotion of work life balance, or more flexible jobs and work environments. While women have made progress in their career advancement and workforce participation, gendered norms within organizations persist. Therefore, a basic qualitative study was used to study the career development of women engineers in organizations and how these are influenced by organizational and societal norms. Interviews with ten women engineers allowed the researcher to understand how women made sense of their experiences and the meanings they construct. Three major findings resulted from this study. The first relates to women engineers’ career development, the second highlights sensemaking and how women respond when faced with organizational and societal norms, and the third addresses social roles and their importance to participants’ experiences. The researcher hopes to enhance the way in which organizations support women’s career development choices and, most importantly, strives to include the voices of women in career development theories and models.

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