Women's desire for the kaleidoscope of authenticity, balance and challenge

A multi‐method study of female health workers’ careers

Marjorie Spooner O'Neill, Denise Jepsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Improved health care and increased life expectancy have extended working lives and changed the nature of work for many women. The aim of this research is to explore women's kaleidoscope career intentions of authenticity, balance and challenge, and understand the impact of life roles on their career choices. The research comprises two studies. In Study 1, interviews with 14 female hospital pharmacists demonstrate how their desire to increase non‐work life roles while caring for ageing parents has influence over their career choices. In Study 2, a survey of 178 female direct care workers confirms life roles’ impact on their kaleidoscope career intentions. Findings demonstrate that different life roles strongly influence women's career choices in a number of ways, primarily their desire to increase their leisure and engagement with activities outside work. In later life, carer responsibilities play an influential role in female career choices, particularly those related to eldercare. Finally, kaleidoscope career intentions may be influenced by life roles. These findings have considerable implications for both the expansion of careers and gender theory, and development of public and business policies aimed at attracting and retaining human resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-982
Number of pages21
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number7
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • adult child caring responsibilities
  • careers
  • eldercare
  • mixed methods
  • non-linear careers
  • women's careers
  • work–family interface

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