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Navigating sexualised visibility: A study of British women engineers

Fernando, Dulini; Cohen, Laurie; Duberley, Joanne


Dulini Fernando

Professor of Work and Organisation

Joanne Duberley


In this article we use the term 'sexualised visibility' to describe how in male dominated work settings such as engineering, women are inscribed with sexual attributes that overshadow and obscure other attributes and values. From a career point of view, sexualised visibility is deeply problematic. However, as yet we have only limited understanding of how women in such settings navigate sexualised visibility and what this means for their careers. Drawing on social identity based impression management (SIM) to examine the career experiences of 50 women in petroleum, mechanical and automotive engineering in the UK, we develop new insights into the relationship between perception, power and relations of visibility. Specifically we identify the interplay between career stage and power and show how the strategies that women adopt to navigate sexualised visibility in their work settings vary by career stage. Furthermore we argue that women’s collective efforts to ensure a favourable representation of their group leads to the reproduction of an implicit but powerful prescriptive gender stereotype which constrains their career progression.


Fernando, D., Cohen, L., & Duberley, J. (2019). Navigating sexualised visibility: A study of British women engineers. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 113, 6-9. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2018.06.001

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 2, 2018
Publication Date Aug 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 8, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 3, 2020
Journal Journal of Vocational Behavior
Print ISSN 0001-8791
Electronic ISSN 0001-8791
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 113
Pages 6-9
Keywords Sexualised visibility; Career; Social identity based impression management; Gender; Engineering
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


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