The purpose of this explorative study is to investigate through the lens of gender the role of career shocks in career advancement experiences in academia. By taking a contextual approach, this study increases understanding of the role of the academic career script as a potential boundary for career shock implications.
The authors studied career advancement experiences of a cohort of 75 men and women associate professors in the Netherlands via biographical interviews and conducted theoretically informed inductive analysis.
The analysis revealed the ambiguities and contradictions in the role of most career shocks in career advancement experiences. Failure to fit the majority of career shocks into the “rigid” academic career script generates discretionary latitude in handling shocks. These shocks pose unique barriers – and to a lesser extent unique benefits – to women's perceived opportunities for career advancement.
Academic organizations should focus on cultivating more inclusive work environments with respect to career shocks. The 75 diverse biographies offer leverage to challenge traditional notions of academic career advancement.
This paper extends “structure and agency” literature on career building by showing how career shock implications are inherently contextual in the academic setting. Gendered support provisions for handling career shocks offer a novel explanation for the numerical minority of women in academic leadership.
Funding: This work is supported by the Erasmus Trustfonds and Ondernemende Vrouwen Fonds under Grant 97010. 2020.101.161/098/RB.
Van Helden, D.L., Den Dulk, L., Steijn, B. and Vernooij, M.W. (2023), "Career implications of career shocks through the lens of gender: the role of the academic career script", Career Development International, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 19-32. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-09-2022-0266
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