Managing Lives: Corporate Women and Social Change

By Sue Freeman Joan Mendelson | Go to book overview
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II
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

The first part of this book was devoted to the professional development of women at work. We examined the work lives of forty women who had been identified as managers or potential managers by their corporations. Through interview data, we learned about their early interest in work and how that materialized in the development of business careers. Even in the absence of explicit career planning, these women demonstrated the ability and inclination to climb the corporate ladder. As they made their way from uncertain beginnings to a corporate career, we traced the interaction between their psychological processing of events and contextual influence.

In tracing women's progress in business, we used their testimony as focal point. Our information came from their own words; their perceptions served as our source. With access to their private conceptions, their introspective analyses, we gleaned how they processed what was happening to them. Thus, we learned about women's development in corporate contexts from their own constructions of meaning; the sense that they made of events and relationships brought new substance to our knowledge of women in business. Moreover, the internal vantage point allowed us an important view of the process of female psychological development as it is linked to social change.

In Part 2 we again use women s understandings of their lives as our primary source of knowledge. Here our subject matter is the personal, rather than the professional. A distinct dichotomy between these two realms of being is not totally

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