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Female part-time managers: Careers, mentors and role models

Durbin, Susan; Tomlinson, Jennifer


Susan Durbin
Professor in Human Resource Management

Jennifer Tomlinson


This paper explores the careers of 27 women employed as part-time managers in a range of UK public, private and not-for-profit sector organizations. Drawing upon semi-structured interviews, the article briefly summarizes the career trajectories of these women, prior to and after a transition to part-time working, before exploring whether and how career progression is linked to the support of role models and mentors. The part-time managers in this sample held varied careers while working full-time, but careers often stalled following a transition to part-time work. Given research has identified role models and mentors as having a positive impact upon career progression, this paper explores the existence of role models and mentors within the sample of female part-time managers. While the majority of interviewees identified role models, just over half identified these as negative role models who did little to champion part-time working. Drawing upon Gibson's 'positive/negative' role model dimensions, we argue the likelihood of identifying positive and negative role models alters when an analysis takes account of gender and working hours. Few interviewees identified mentors: just four women spoke of being mentored currently, though ten others identified being mentored in the past. We argue this lack of mentors and the identification of negative role models, the majority of whom were women, exacerbates the already precarious position of these female part-time managers. The paper concludes by commenting on the lack of support for female part-time managers, and the paucity of influential people working part-time in organizations, despite the rapid growth of part-time work in the UK over the past four decades. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Durbin, S., & Tomlinson, J. (2014). Female part-time managers: Careers, mentors and role models. Gender, Work and Organization, 21(4), 308-320.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jan 9, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Journal Gender, Work and Organization
Print ISSN 0968-6673
Electronic ISSN 1468-0432
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 4
Pages 308-320
Keywords gender, part-time management, careers, mentors, role models
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Additional Information Additional Information : First published online 9 January 2014.