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How do female engineers conceptualise career advancement in engineering: a template analysis

Yates, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-9235-564X & Skinner, S. (2021). How do female engineers conceptualise career advancement in engineering: a template analysis. Career Development International, 26(5), pp. 697-719. doi: 10.1108/cdi-01-2021-0016


Existing research has established that women drop out of engineering careers in part because of a dissatisfaction with their career development, but women's understanding of career development in engineering has been as yet largely unexplored. This paper aims to explore female engineers' experiences of navigating their careers and their perceptions of barriers to career development, through the lens of the intelligent career framework (ICF).

The in-depth interviews of this study were conducted with female engineers in the UK and analysed using template analysis.

The authors identified three structural barriers that participants felt hinder women's career development in engineering: (1) promotions are more likely to be given to people who are widely known – more often men; (2) promotions are more likely to be given to people on whom high status is conferred in this context – more often men and (3) promotions are more likely to be given to people who conform to the ideal worker ideology – more often men. The women also offered a series of counter-narratives in which they reframed the behaviour they witnessed as something other than sexism.

The findings highlight the significant and systemic bias against women's career development through gender stereotypes in workplaces and an implicitly gendered organisation that hinders the development of the three competencies needed for career advancement. The authors describe a range of counter-narratives that the participants use to help them to make sense of their experiences. Finally, the authors illustrate the application of the intelligent career framework (ICF) as a lens to view the career development culture of an organisation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact
Publisher Keywords: Intelligent career framework, Women in engineering, Career advancement, Career capital
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Women in Engineering Career Development International Accepted Manuscript.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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