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Correlates of career priority and family priority among hospital-based nursing staff

Ronald J. Burke (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Parbudyal Singh (Department of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 25 February 2014




This study explored the relationship of measures of career priority and family priority with a number of other variables including personal demographics, work situation characteristics, work motivations, work outcomes and indicators of extra-work outcomes such as affluence and psychological well-being. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Data were collected from 290 nursing staff, the vast majority female, working in Ontario, Canada, using anonymously completed questionnaires.


Career priority and family priority were significantly and positively correlated in this sample. Nursing staff also rated family priority significantly higher than career priority. Personal demographics were associated with levels of both career priority and family priority such that married nursing staff, nursing staff with children, and nursing staff working part time reported lower levels of career priority, while married nurses and nursing staff having children rated family priority higher. Nursing staff having higher levels of work motivation also rated career priority higher. Career priority was significantly correlated with several work outcomes. Nursing staff indicating a higher career priority were more satisfied and engaged in their jobs. Somewhat surprisingly, family priority was generally unrelated to these work and well-being outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

Recent writing on women in organizations has raised the question of can women “have it all”, a successful and demanding career and a satisfying home and family life. The findings contribute to this debate.

Practical implications

Suggestions for both women and organizations to facilitate career and family facilitation are offered.

Social implications

Increasing interest has been shown in women in the workplace, and whether they should “lean in” to advance their careers. The authors suggest that this strategy may be at odds with what women, and men, increasingly want.


The paper highlights differences in the antecedents and consequences of career priority and family priority in a predominately female sample bringing work and family issues into the forefront once again.



This research was supported in part by York University and a research grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The authors acknowledge the participation of the organizations and the respondents. Lisa Fiksenbaum contributed to data analysis and Paulette Burgher helped with the literature review.


J. Burke, R. and Singh, P. (2014), "Correlates of career priority and family priority among hospital-based nursing staff", Gender in Management, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 91-107.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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