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This paper briefly reviews the literature on gender differences in career progress in nursing It argues that current explanations for these differences are essentialist in nature Aspects of the literature on the labour market and neo-Weberian closure theories are critically reviewed and a synthesis of these two domains is proposed The paper argues that this synthesis can provide a non-essentialist explanatory framework for gender differences in career progress and provides a foundation for ongoing empirical work The exercise points to the importance of geographical mobility and its use as an exclusionary criterion in career progress In the context of the nursing labour market this process may serve to maintain structural gender bias in professional nursing