Are women less career centric than men? Structure, culture, and identity investments

Document Type


Publication Date



Some work/family scholars assume that gender differences in career centrality (i.e. the importance of career to one's identity) are a result of differential job characteristics and family demands; others trace these differences to pre-existing cultural orientations. Using the 2010 Generations of Talent data from 9210 employees working in 11 countries for 7 multinational companies, this study verifies the existence of gender differences in career centrality and explores structural and cultural explanations. Gender disparities in career centrality are modest, indicating that women's and men's identification with careers is more similar than is commonly asserted; the most pronounced (but still relatively small) disparities are observed in Japan and China. A large portion of the gender gap is explained by job characteristics, supporting structural explanations. Family demands contribute to explaining the gap as well, but the findings are unexpected: having minor children is associated with higher career centrality for both women and men. In support of cultural explanations, however, traditional gender beliefs are associated with lower career centrality, especially for women, while two job characteristics (job variety and peer relations) have distinct links to career centrality for women and men. Findings challenge the common assumption that family identities compete against work identities.

Publication Name

Community, Work and Family

Volume Number


First Page


Last Page


Issue Number




This document is currently not available here.