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Feminisation and paradox: stratification and segmentation in professional contexts

Bolton, S. and Muzio, D. (2006) Feminisation and paradox: stratification and segmentation in professional contexts. Irish Journal of Management, 1. pp. 79-93. ISSN 1649-248X

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The past three decades have been characterised by dramatic labour-market developments including the mass entry of women into formerly exclusively male domains. Professional work is particularly indicative of this trend where growth in female membership has fuelled optimistic predictions of shattered glass ceilings and gender equality. This paper seeks to challenge these predictions and to explore the associated assumptions linked with the feminisation of professional work in the United Kingdown. It will do this by focusing on two professional groups: law and management which, despite some substantial differences, present a common and recurrent theme in that they celebrate and sustain a masculine vision of what it is to be a professional. This leads to a series of paradoxes as the professions are increasingly dependent on the contribution of their female members, yet women and women's work continue to be marginalised, downgraded and exploited.