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The experience of being a professionally successful gay woman

Wilman, L. (2017). The experience of being a professionally successful gay woman. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Research is needed to explore the lives of gay people so that not only the challenges which people face can be understood, but also the positive aspects of their lives. There is a lack of breadth to the existing literature which addresses the professional lives of gay people and the experiences of gay women receive little focus in the literature on women and work. The lack of attention paid to professionally successful gay women is surprising. Work is significant to people’s lives in many different ways and gender and sexual identity can be significant to people’s professional lives. This research aims to explore what it is like to be a professionally successful gay woman. This topic is relevant to counselling psychologists given the profession’s aim of understanding the impact social contexts have on people (British Psychological Society, 2005) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) stipulation that psychologists understand how gender and sexual identity may impact on people’s behaviour and well-being (Health and Care Professions Council, 2015). Using semi-structured interviews and interpretative phenomenological analysis this research explores the experiences of eight participants who self-identify as being professionally successful gay women. Four main themes emerged from the analysis; ‘Aspects of Self as a Professionally Successful Gay Woman’, ‘Feeling Different to Other People as a Gay Person and as a Woman’, ‘Coping Strategies Used in Response to Difficulties Encountered as a Professionally Successful Gay Woman’ and ‘Connection to Other Gay People and Other Women’ . A surprising issue to emerge across all these themes is the apparent lack of connection many participants seem to have with being a woman. This research highlights how heteronormativity and binary ideas about gender can impact on people and considers how counselling psychologists may engage with these issues both in clinical practice and beyond.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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