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Graduates 'Doing Gender' as early Career Professionals
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Studies in Adult, Popular and Higher Education. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
(English)Manuscript (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose: This qualitative study focuses on how early career professionals ‘do gender’ in their new professional context. The article explores how two different groups of graduates, psychologists and political scientists, ‘do gender’ as early career professionals with particular emphasis on how graduates acquire legitimacy in relation to their colleagues and clients.

Design/methodology/approach: Graduates from two different Master’s programmes in Sweden, Political Science and Psychology, were interviewed after 30-34 months of professional work. The theoretical approach is based on a ‘doing gender’ perspective with special reference to Acker’s theoretical framework viewing employment and organizations as gendered processes influencing both individuals’ actions and activities.

Findings: The analysis identified two different ways the early career professionals ‘do gender’ in their professional practice in order to acquire legitimacy, one of a kind or the same as others and construction or selfpossession. The results indicate that female and male early career professionals acquire different kinds of legitimacy, which could be derived from the gendered processes in the organization where behaviour and interaction play a decisive role. When they ‘do gender’ they also produce and reproduce a gendered notion of a professional project that influences their professional practice as well as how they position themselves as a professional person with knowledge and competence.

Originality/value: The perspective of ‘doing gender’ opens up an interesting approach in exploring graduate employment and the encounter with working life. The perspective makes it possible to capture gender as everyday activities of people in organizations; an approach that has been largely ignored.

Keyword [en]
Graduate Employment, Doing Gender, Professionalism, Legitimacy, Qualitative analysis
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-16935OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-16935DiVA: diva2:174841
Available from: 2009-02-25 Created: 2009-02-25 Last updated: 2010-01-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Becoming a professional: A longitudinal study of graduates'  professional trajectories from higher education to working life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Becoming a professional: A longitudinal study of graduates'  professional trajectories from higher education to working life
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Att bli professionell : En longitudinell studie om akademikers professionella bana från högre utbildning till arbetsliv
Abstract [en]

Syftet med avhandlingen är att beskriva akademikers bana mot att bli professionella då de kommer ut i arbetslivet med en magisterexamen i psykologi eller statsvetenskap.

The study has a longitudinal design where Political Science and Psychology graduates’ have been interviewed on three consecutive occasions; the last semester before graduation, the first year and then, in the third year of professional work. The theoretical frame of reference comprises a situated and social learning theory and a gender perspective. These theories were chosen since they elaborate on concepts such as identity, practice, participation and learning.

The results indicate that becoming a professional is not an isolated phenomenon merely learned and nurtured in higher education and/or in working life. It is emphasised as a dynamic learning process between a reflective individual, the interaction with a professional practice as well as a relationship between other spheres of life, e.g. the personal and the private. The graduates’ professional trajectories can be characterised by a movement from appropriating new knowledge to a need to change direction, e.g. new work tasks or professional fields. This is also a process of professional identity formation. The graduates’ professional identity is emphasised as being both closely related to a gender identity and influenced by the individuals’ belonging to and participation in other practices. The results thus indicate that professional identity formation is an interplay between different spheres of life that changes over time. By using a longitudinal design, it can be claimed that becoming a professional requires balancing one’s whole life situation.

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med avhandlingen är att beskriva akademikers bana mot att bli professionella då de kommer ut i arbetslivet med en magisterexamen i psykologi eller statsvetenskap.

Avhandlingen baserar sig på en longitudinell studie där statsvetare och psykologer har blivit intervjuade vid tre olika tillfällen; sista terminen innan examen samt efter första och tredje året i arbetslivet.

Den teoretiska referensramen utgörs av begrepp från situerat och social lärteori samt från ett genusperspektiv. Dessa teorier valdes då de fokuserar på begreppen identitet, praktik, deltagande och lärande.Resultaten visar att utvecklingen mot att bli professionell inte är ett isolerat fenomen förvärvat och underhållet i högre utbildning och/eller arbetslivet. Det uttrycks snarare som en dynamisk lärprocess mellan en reflekterande individ, interaktion med en professionell praktik samt med olika sfärer i livet, den professionella, den personliga och den privata. Akademikernas professionella bana kan karakteriseras som en rörelse mellan att utveckla ny kunskap och göra den till sin, till ett behov av förändring i form av nya arbetsuppgifter eller byte av professionellt fält. Att bli professionell innebär även en utveckling av en professionell identitet. Statsvetarnas och psykologernas professionella identitet skapas i relation till en genusidentitet och är influerad av individernas tillhörighet och medverkan i olika praktiker. Resultatet visar därför utveckling av professionell identitet som ett samspel mellan olika sfärer i livet som är föränderligt över tid. Utifrån den utförda longitudinella studien är det möjligt att hävda att utvecklingen mot att bli professionell är ett sätt att skapa ett samspel och balans i individens livssituation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 89 + papers 1-4 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 140
Keyword
longitudinal study, qualitative analysis, profesional development, identity, employability, higher education, work life, community of practice, gender, Longitudinell studie, kvalitativ analys, professionell utveckling, identitet, anställningsbarhet, högre utbildning, arbetsliv, praktikgemenskap, genus
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-16940 (URN)978-91-7393-691-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-03-27, Eklundska salen (I:101), Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:30 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-02-25 Created: 2009-02-25 Last updated: 2014-09-30Bibliographically approved

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