Respectable Femininity and Career Advancement: An Analysis of the Federal Civil Service of Pakistan

Nighat Ansari, Nasira Jabeen & Amani Moazzam Baig


This research study was conducted to investigate the role of ‘respectable femininity’ norms in the work lives of professional women and investigate the extent to which they impact on female career advancement (or lack thereof) by way of creating a clash with the traditional career management techniques. This qualitative research study, conducted on the public service organizations in Pakistan has found that the working women in Pakistan feeling guilty of violating the norm of ‘confinement to private spheres’ appeared obliged to abide by the respectable femininity principles of ‘domesticity’, ‘restrained networking’, and ‘toning down their femininity’, in order to maintain an ‘honorable’ reputation / image in the society, however, these norms, in turn, created a significant hurdle in their career advancement by way of constraining their capacity to exploiting the career management techniques of accumulating ‘social capital’ and employing ‘impression management’ tactics. The study showcases the female’s enigmatic struggle of becoming a ‘good woman’ and a ‘successful careerist’ at the same time which culminates in to a series of subtle barriers in their professional careers mounting ultimately to become a significant panel of ‘glass ceiling’ in their progression.

 Keywords:Respectable femininity; career management; social /human capital; impression management; glass ceiling;

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