Responsibility in Life Designing and Career Construction of Women with Low Employment Skills

  • Gudbjörg VilhjálmsdóttirEmail author
Part of the Lifelong Learning Book Series book series (LLLB, volume 23)


The Psychology of Working Theory (PWT) teaches that career development approaches should focus more on groups that are marginalized and the aim in career counseling should be to assist clients in accessing decent work (Blustein DL, J Career Assess 19: 316−322, 2011; Blustein D, Masdonati J, Rossier J, Psychology and the international labor organization: the role of psychology in the decent work agenda, Unpublished report, 2017). This chapter investigates how underprivileged women can be assisted in career identity development in a Career Construction Interview (CCI). A case study of two women with low employment skills reveals that the CCI is an effective method in clarifying career identity and career adaptability issues with young women that have experienced barriers such as lack of high school education, young motherhood and abusive relationships. The two stories are analyzed with a literary method that charts the contents of the two CCIs while an Icelandic version of the career adaptability scale is used to measure progress in the interviews. These two cases indicate that the instrument is sensitive to positive career adaptability changes before and after the two CCI sessions.


Career adaptability Career construction interview Decent work Literary analysis Life design Responsibility 


  1. Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Kabbani, N. S. (2001). The dropout process in life course perspective: Early risk factors at home and school. Teachers College Record, 103, 760–822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Árnason, V. (2008). Farsælt líf, réttlátt samfélag: kenningar í siðfræði [Good life, just society: Theories in ethics]. Reykjavík, Iceland: Heimskringla, háskólaforlag Máls og menningar.Google Scholar
  3. Blustein, D. (2006). The psychology of working. A new perspective for career development, counseling, and public policy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Blustein, D., Masdonati, J., & Rossier, J. (2017). Psychology and the international labor organization: The role of psychology in the decent work agenda (Unpublished report).Google Scholar
  5. Blustein, D. L. (2011). Vocational psychology at the fork in the road: Staying the course or taking the road less travelled. Journal of Career Assessment, 19, 316−322. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, B. N. (2003). Applying existential theory and intervention to career decision making. Journal of Career Development, 29(3), 195−209.Google Scholar
  7. Deranty, J. P., & MacMillan, C. (2012). The ILO’s decent work initiative: Suggestions for an extension of the notion of “decent work”. Journal of Social Philosophy, 43(4), 386–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Duffy, R. D., Blustein, D., Diemer, M. A., & Autin, K. L. (2016). Journal of Counseling Psychology, 63(2), 127–148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Einarsdóttir, S., Vilhjálmsdóttir, G., Smáradóttir, S. B., & Kjartansdóttir, G. B. (2015). A culture-sensitive approach in the development of the career adapt-abilities scale in Iceland: Theoretical and operational considerations. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 89, 172−181. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Enns, C. Z. (2000). Gender issues in counseling. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology (pp. 601–638). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Fassinger, R. E. (2005). Theoretical issues in the study of women’s career development: Building bridges in a brave new world. In W. B. Walsh & M. L. Savickas (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology (3rd ed., pp. 51–83). Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  12. Ferrari, L., Sgaramella, T. M., & Soresi, S. (2015). Bridging disability and work – Contribution and challenges of life design. In L. Nota & J. Rossier (Eds.), Handbook of life design. From practice to theory and from theory to practice (pp. 219–231). Boston: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  13. Gibb, S. J., Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Boden, J. M. (2014). Early motherhood and long-term economic outcomes: Findings from a 30-year longitudinal study. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25(1), 163−172. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Heppner, M. J., & Ae-Kyung Jung. (2013). Gender and social class: Powerful predictors of a life journey. In W. B. Walsh, M. L. Savickas, & P. J. Hartung (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology (4th ed., pp. 81–102). New York: Taylor Francis.Google Scholar
  15. Herath, S. (2011). Women’s access to decent work. Interactive expert panel key policy initiatives and capacity-building on gender mainstreaming: Focus on education and training. New York: United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Accessed 12 Jan 2017Google Scholar
  16. International Labour Organization. (1999). Decent work, report of the director-general. International labour conference, 87th session, Geneva, Switzerland. Accessed 20 Feb 2017.
  17. International Labour Organization. (2003). Working out of poverty. Report of the director-general to the 91st session of the international labour conference. Geneva, Switzerland: ILO. Accessed 20 Jan 2017.
  18. Jónsdóttir, G. A. (1996). Samanburður á launum karla og kvenna sem starfa hjá Reykjavíkurborg [Comparison of men’s and women’s salaries working for the city of Reykjavik]. Reykjavík, Iceland: Félagsvísindastofnun Háskóla Íslands.Google Scholar
  19. Lerman, R. I., & Schmidt, S. R. (1999). An overview of economic, social, and demographic trends affecting the US labor market. Washington, DC: US Department of Labor Accessed 21 Jan 2017Google Scholar
  20. McNeal, R. B. (2011). Labor market effects on dropping out of high school: Variation by gender, race, and employment status. Youth & Society, 43, 305–332. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Muse, L. A., & Pichler, S. (2011). A comparison of types of support for lower-skill workers: Evidence for the importance of family supportive supervisors. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79, 653–666. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development]. (2001). Transition from initial education to working life. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  23. OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development]. (2011). Education at a glance 2011: Highlights. Paris: OECD Publishing. Accessed 20 Feb 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development]. (2012). Education at a glance 2012. OECD indicators. Paris: OECD Publications Accessed 21 Jan 2017Google Scholar
  25. Perdrix, S., Stauffer, S., Masdonati, J., Massoudi, K., & Rossier, J. (2012). Effectiveness of career counseling: A one-year follow-up. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 565–578. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pouyaud, J. (2016). For a psychosocial approach to decent work. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rorty, R. (1989). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rottinghaus, P. J., & Miller, A. D. (2013). Convergence of personality frameworks within vocational psychology. In W. B. Walsh, M. L. Savickas, & P. J. Hartung (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology (4th ed., pp. 105–131). New York: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  29. Rudolph, C. W., Lavigne, K. N., Katz, I. M. & Zacher, H. (2017). Linking dimensions of career adaptability to adaptions measures: A meta–analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 102, 151. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rumberger, R. W., & Lamb, S. P. (2003). The early employment and further education experiences of high school dropouts: A comparative study of the United States and Australia. Economics of Education Review, 22, 353–366. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sartre, J. P. (1946/2007). Tilvistarhyggjan er mannhyggja [Existentialism is an humanism]. Reykjavík, Iceland: Hið íslenska bókmenntafélag.Google Scholar
  32. Savickas, M. L. (2005). The theory and practice of career construction. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Career development and counseling. Putting theory and research to work (pp. 42–70). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Savickas, M. L. (2011). Career counseling. In J. Carlson & M. Englar-Carlson (Eds.), Theories of psychotherapy series. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  34. Savickas, M. L. (2015). Life design counseling manual. Accessed 8 Jan 2017.
  35. Savickas, M. L., Nota, L., Rossier, J., Dauwalder, J.-P., Duarte, M. E., et al. (2009). Life design: A paradigm for career construction in the 21st century. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 239–250. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shriver, M., & Center for American Progress. (2014). The Shriver report. A woman’s nation pushes back from the brink. Accessed 15 Jan 2017.
  37. Statistics Iceland. (2017, January 10). Háskólamenntaðir fleiri en íbúar með menntun á framhaldsskólastigi 2015 [More people have an university education than just secondary education]. Accessed 4 Apr 2017.
  38. Statistics Iceland. (n.d.) Lágtekjumörk og tekjudreifing 2010 [Low wages and income distribution 2010]. Accessed 29 Mar 2017.
  39. Taber, B. J., Hartung, P. J., Briddick, H., Briddick, W. C., & Rehfuss, M. C. (2011). Career style interview: A contextualized approach to career counseling. Career Development Quarterly, 59, 274–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vilhjálmsdóttir, G. (2017). Career changes on the horizon. The importance of group norms in interpreting results of career adaptability measures. In J. G. Maree (Ed.), Psychology of career adaptability, employability and resilience (pp. 375−396). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vilhjálmsdóttir, G., Dofradóttir, A. D., & Kjartansdóttir, G. B. (2011). Voice of users. Promoting quality of guidance for adults in the Nordic countries. Finland: Nordic Network for Adult Learning Accessed 19 Dec 2016Google Scholar
  42. Vilhjálmsdóttir, G., & Tulinius, T. H. (2009). Tales of two subjects: Narratives of career counseling. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 267–274. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vilhjálmsdóttir, G., & Tulinius, T. H. (2016). The career construction interview and literary analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 97, 40–50. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IcelandReykjavíkIceland

Personalised recommendations