– The purpose of this paper is to explore how early career professionals “do gender” in their
new professional context. Specifically, it explores how two groups of graduates, psychologists and
political scientists, “do gender” as early career professionals with a particular emphasis on how they
acquire legitimacy in relation to their colleagues and clients.
– Drawing on a qualitative research methodology, graduates from
two Master’s programmes in Sweden were interviewed after 30-34 months of professional work.
Analysis of the interview data is located within a “doing gender” perspective with special reference to
Acker’s conception of employment and organizations as gendered processes influencing individual
– The paper identifies two different ways in which participants “do gender” in their
professional practice in order to acquire legitimacy: “self-presentation” and “strategy”. This finding
suggests that female and male early career professionals acquire different kinds of legitimacy, which
could, in turn, be derived from the gendered processes that exist in contemporary organizations. The
paper will also report that when they “do gender” participants also produce and reproduce a gendered
notion of a professional project that influences their subsequent professional practice as well as how
they position themselves as knowledgeable and competent.
– The perspective of “doing gender” contributes an alternative understanding of
graduate employment and the encounter with working life. It especially enables us to capture gender
as an important influence on individual action in the organizational context.
Emerald , 2010. Vol. 15, no 4, 324-337 p.