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Exploring the overlooked: women, work and criminal history

Nicole Carrie Jones Young (Department of Business, Organizations and Society, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA)
Kemi Salawu Anazodo (Goodman School of Business, Organizational Behaviour, Human Resources, Entrepreneurship and Ethics, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 13 May 2020

Issue publication date: 20 July 2020




This paper aims to explore how incarcerated women prepare to manage the stigma of a criminal history as they look to re-enter the workforce after release from incarceration.


This paper uses a qualitative, case study research design including interviews and observations to explore the experiences and self-perceptions of incarcerated women within the context of employment.


Five themes that emerged and influenced the perception of stigma as these incarcerated women prepared for release into the labor market were career self-efficacy, the intersection of identity (women and criminal history), self-perceptions of prison identity, stigma disclosure and social support for employment.

Research limitations/implications

As the management literature expands to include more diverse and marginalized populations, current understanding of theories and concepts, such as multiple identities and stigma disclosure, may operate differently as compared to traditional management samples.

Practical implications

Organizations can collaborate with correctional facilities to ensure that individuals with a criminal history are trained and prepared to re-enter the workplace upon release.

Social implications

As employment is one of the biggest determinants of recidivism (i.e. return to incarceration) for individuals with a criminal history, organizations have the unique ability to assist in substantially decreasing the incarcerated population.


This study explores criminal history and highlights some of the nuances to consider when exploring an understudied and marginalized population, such as women with a criminal history.



The authors would like to thank the partnering non-profit organization for allowing them access to their program and program participants.


Young, N.C.J. and Anazodo, K.S. (2020), "Exploring the overlooked: women, work and criminal history", Gender in Management, Vol. 35 No. 6, pp. 505-528.



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