Climate and Identity in the Career Experiences of Women Employed in the Chemical Industry

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2006-05-02

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Despite recent gains in the literature on women's career development, scant information is available about women in nontraditional careers, including the sciences and engineering. The purpose of the present study was to utilize a qualitative methodology to investigate the experiences of 22 diverse women employed in the U.S. chemical industry in order to examine the role of workplace climate and demographic identity in their careers. Results of semi-structured interviews presented here suggest that formal and informal company policies impacted upon interviewees' perceptions of climate and that workplace support was a significant factor in managing general career challenges as well as those specific to demographic location. Differential influence of gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, geographic location, and functional area within the company were described by participants. Results also suggest that some participants may engage in identity management strategies as a way of negotiating unfavorable aspects of workplace climate.

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