In a moment a woman can decide to remain on a set career path, however through Impressions management, a process by which individuals attempt to control the impressions others form of themselves, decisions are made to continue or opt out. The focus of this study was to explore unspoken or (in)visible norms that form part of these impressions. The study explored what the norms are that move a woman along her career journey and norms that move her away. The findings in this research report considered the existing body of literature on women, norms, impression management and career progression.
This research project comprised of ten in-depth interviews with women in an organisation. The women were interviewed face-to-face, in an unstructured format. Secondary sources such as annual reports and company website were reviewed.
The research found that when career building norms were visible to both the woman and others, the woman experienced positive career progression. When the woman was unaware of career building norms, but these were visible to others, the woman experienced positive career development. When the woman was aware of career limiting norms, while this remained oblivious to others and remained unspoken, career dis-alignment was experienced by the woman. Lastly when both the woman and others did not question or acknowledge existing career limiting norms, her career experienced status quo.
There was lack of diversity in the sample and the company and country context influenced the results.
This study focused on contributing to (in)visibility by assessing the impact of impressions management of women’s career progression. This would contribute to considerations when developing women’s career progression plans. A total of four suggestions were made for future research.