A study conducted to investigate the aspirations and expectations women managers hold for achieving senior positions is described. The subjects were employed in various departments of a public sector organisation and investigated by the use of biographical interviews. It was found that individuals aspired to achieve higher level posts than they expected, and that many had entered a career in the public sector by default, having received little or poor career advice. Drawing on research conducted elsewhere describing career choice mechanisms, it is argued that a combination of work motivation, structure of opportunity, sex role socialisation and expectations contributes to selflimitation in women’s career decisions. This process leads subsequently to further downgrading of expectations in a reinforcing cycle. It is suggested that by altering expectations (along with confronting socialisation and structure of opportunity, which is a more common approach) it may be possible to reduce self‐limitation.
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