The Structures of Women’s Careers
The analysis of women’s work histories from the Women and Employment Survey data has permitted us to see patterns of women’s occupational and industrial mobility over their lifetime. The patterns emerge from the combination of women’s supply-side preferences and constraints which vary over their life cycle, with the structure of labour market opportunities; the structure has in some cases moulded itself to women’s acceptance of childcare responsibilities over family formation through the growth of part-time work. Women’s priorities also appear to vary over their life-cycle. In their early years of working, occupational preferences have priority whereas during the family formation period women often trade off their preferred occupation in order to obtain a job with fewer hours. Much downward occupational mobility resulted from women taking part-time jobs after childbirth. The hours of work thus become the main priority, over family formation, superseding occupational preferences, although the latter can come to dominate again in later life. A set of patterns of industrial mobility were also documented which are determined by women’s occupational rather than by their industrial choices.
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