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Respectable femininity and career agency: exploring paradoxical imperatives

Fernando, Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda; Cohen, Laurie

Authors

Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda Fernando

Laurie Cohen

Abstract

This paper places respectable femininity at the very centre of career enactment. In the accounts of 24 Sri Lankan women, notions of being a ‘respectable’ woman recurred as respondents described how important it was to adhere to the powerful behavioural norms for women in their organizations and society. However while such respectability was vital for women's career progression, it ultimately restricted their agency and conflicted with other requirements for advancement. Based on our empirical findings, we propose that being a respectable woman was experienced as paradox, where at times it was seen as impossible to be both a good woman and a successful careerist. We highlight the implications of our findings for women's careers in South Asia and more widely.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 14, 2013
Journal Gender, Work & Organization
Electronic ISSN 0968-6673
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 2
Institution Citation Fernando, W. D. A., & Cohen, L. (2013). Respectable femininity and career agency: exploring paradoxical imperatives. Gender, Work and Organization, 21(2), doi:10.1111/gwao.12027
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12027
Keywords Respectable femininity, Gender, Career, Gendered organization, Paradox
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gwao.12027/abstract
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0




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