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Exploring Women's Retirement: Continuity, Context and Career Transition


  • Joanne Duberley,

  • Fiona Carmichael,

  • Isabelle Szmigin

Address for correspondence: Joanne Duberley, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK; e-mail:


This paper reports on an exploratory study examining women's views about and experiences of retirement. It has long been recognized that women's careers often follow a different path than men's due to the differential impact of family and domestic responsibilities and their relative underrepresentation at higher levels of organizations. However, many studies of retirement have implicitly assumed a conventional male career as the norm, where retirement is seen as marking a neat ending to continuous employment. This paper aims to present a richer understanding of women's retirement, utilizing contextual national data and qualitative analysis. The paper begins with a brief summary of literature looking at women's career development. We then explore the concept of retirement and consider current literature with regard to women's retirement. Following a brief discussion of our research approach, we provide some national context using quantitative data. We then discuss the qualitative findings, examining the areas of continuity and change that women experienced in retirement and exploring the factors that they felt enabled and constrained them.