Sex Roles

, Volume 55, Issue 5–6, pp 357–371 | Cite as

How We Define Success: A Qualitative Study of What Matters Most to Women and Men

  • Lorraine S. DykeEmail author
  • Steven A. Murphy


In this article we explore how women and men define success and how their definition of success affects their career progress. Qualitative analysis of data from 40 interviews with successful women and men suggest that gender differences do exist. Women highlight the importance of balance and relationships. Men focus more on material success. Similar numbers of women and men thought that their definitions of success had limited their career progress, but the tradeoffs they reported making were distinctly different. Our results suggest that gender differences in the meaning of success exist even when occupational attainments are similar.


Gender Success Careers Trade-offs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eric Sprott School of BusinessCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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