Different motivations for male workers in typically female jobs

Men in typically female-dominated occupations tend to value the social aspects of their career over financial rewards suggests research presented today at the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference in Nottingham. 

The study by Dr Kazia Solowiej and colleagues* of the University of Worcester and Dr Catherine Steele of the University of Leicester involved 34 men who worked as either primary school teachers or university administrators.

They were interviewed about their career history, experience of success and the support they received from their organisations. The interviews revealed that their definitions of career success included features other than pay and promotion such as building friendships with colleagues and flexible working that enabled time for family and social commitments.

For male primary school teachers career development was reflected in the varied challenges brought by pupils. They also valued recognition of success from their colleagues, but some felt pressured to apply for opportunities for career progression, which was contrasting to their actual career goals.

Dr Solowiej said: “It is often assumed that men value careers with regular opportunities for promotion; however our study demonstrates that this isn’t always the case. Men who work in typically female-dominated occupations value success in ways that went beyond salary and promotion.

“Organisations need to understand that some of their male employees may not be motivated purely by promotional opportunities. Therefore it is important that gender stereotypical assumptions about success are challenged so we can understand what is important to individuals within different occupational contexts.”

*Other authors include Dr Catharine Ross and Professor Jan Francis-Smythe of the University of Worcester.

The Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference takes place from the 6 to 8 January 2015 at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RJ.