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The Careers of Senior Men and Women – A Capabilities Theory Perspective

Authors

  • Nelarine Cornelius,

    1. Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Elliott Jaques Building, Uxbridge Campus, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UK, and
    2. Coventry University Business School, Coventry University, UK
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  • Denise Skinner

    1. Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Elliott Jaques Building, Uxbridge Campus, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UK, and
    2. Coventry University Business School, Coventry University, UK
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Corresponding author email: nelarine.cornelius@brunel.ac.uk

Abstract

In this article we adopt a capabilities theory perspective to analyse 40 in-depth interviews (20 women, 20 men) exploring the careers of senior women and men in human resource management. Both groups felt driven by increasingly unconstrained demands of work, in the case of women paid and non-paid domestic work and for men primarily paid work, and perceptions of time autonomy (being able to exercise autonomy in allocating one's time) for both differed markedly. However, these senior women appeared to have negotiated a path which fitted with their realized functioning and quality of life goals and they measured success in their own terms. Senior men's working patterns and definitions of success remained largely traditional and for most the demands of work were dominant. However, there was evidence that male views were changing with some expressing a desire for a better balance with less time involved with work. Our findings highlight the importance of the family and we suggest that there is a need for the obligations of organizations in terms of their impact on the family unit to be stated and acted upon with the role of fathers as carers equally and explicitly expounded with that of mothers.

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