LEARNING OBJECTIVES • How do women and men’s occupational expectations differ? How are people viewed when they enter occupations that are not traditional for their gender?

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• What factors are related to women’s occupational development?

• What factors affect ethnic minority workers’ occupational experiences and occupational development?

• What types of bias and discrimination hinder the occupational development of women and ethnic minority workers?

• What types of bias and discrimination hinder the occupational development of older workers?


anice, a 35-year-old African American manager at a business consulting firm, is concerned because her career is not progressing as rapidly as she had hoped. Janice works hard and has received excellent performance ratings every year. But she has noticed that there are very few women in upper management positions in her company. Janice wonders whether she will ever be promoted.

Occupational choice and development are not equally available to all, as Janice is experiencing. Although they’re in similar occupations, the men and women depicted in the photograph come from different backgrounds. Gender, ethnicity, and age may create barriers to achieving one’s occupational goals. Each received somewhat different socializa­tion as children and adolescents, which made it easier or harder for them to set their sights on a career. Bias and discrimination also create barriers to occupational success. In this section, we’ll get a better appreciation of the personal and structural barriers that exist for many people.

© iStockphoto. com / Vasko Miokovic

There has been an increase in ethnically diverse people into various professional careers.