A GROUNDBREAKING book looking at career development patterns among women aged 45 to 65 across the globe is challenging perspectives about women in the work place.
“We felt that career theory and career measurement were too male-dominated,” said Professor of Psychology Mark Watson, one of the book’s three joint editors, who is also the winner of one of two NMMU Research Excellence Awards.
“Women’s patterns of career development are complex. Women are very resilient.”
Published earlier this year under the title, “Women’s career development throughout the lifespan: An international exploration”, it is one of three career-focused books with which Watson has recently been involved. The book began as a study of career transitions and the multiple life roles carried by women in South Africa, Australia and England, but soon expanded to include women in six other countries, namely Germany, Italy, Argentina, Canada, China and Portugal.
“Each country had a principle researcher who interviewed 12 women ... The book allows readers to listen to the voices of the 108 women.”
The three editors, who included Prof Jenny Bimrose from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and Dr Mary McMahon from the University of Queenland, Australia (both of whom are research associates in NMMU’s Faculty of Health Sciences), invited top international career researchers and theorists to offer their opinions on the material collected, which were also included in the book.
“Despite the differences in socio-economic backgrounds and nationalities, there were a lot of similarities ... Through what these women say, the book challenges current ideas about career development.” The book also confirms that despite the introduction of equal employment legislation in many countries, the proverbial glass ceiling still exists for women.
A second recently-published book focuses on a qualitative approach to career assessment. “Since 2000, there has been a movement away from quantitative career assessment, such as psychometric testing. This type of testing is useful, but a qualitative approach takes into account that everyone has a story to tell about career development and it’s better to get the context of the person, their background and the factors influencing their life.
“Nobody has yet put together a book on the qualitative assessment of career development ... There are about 14 world experts who have developed qualitative ways of looking at career development, including instruments. This book explains how they are used.” The book has been called “a landmark text” in initial reviews.
A third book that will be published early next year focuses on how to stimulate career awareness in children.
Watson has also been working on the third edition of the book “Career psychology in the South African context”, which is prescribed on various campuses.
Watson holds a distinguished professorship at NMMU, an honorary professorship at the University of Queensland and a Research Fellowship at the University of Warwick.
AT NMMU, he mentors “promising future academics” through the Next Generation Initiative (NGI) programme. “They are all completing doctorates attached to various schools and departments.”
Together with McMahon, he has been devising a standardised programme of training for career practitioners in South Africa.
Watson, who has a B1-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and is also a member of the NRF’s Executive Evaluation Committee, has authored or co-authored 48 books/ book chapters, 79 articles in international, national and regional journals, and supervised 50 master’s and nine doctoral students. He has delivered 56 papers at international conferences and 75 at national conferences, 20 keynote addresses, and is an editorial board member of one national and four international journals.
HE was awarded NMMU’s Faculty of Health Sciences Researcher of the Year Award in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2014.
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