Factors involved in women's atypical career choice : a comparative study of women in East and West Germany before and after reunification
The current increase in the numbers of women active in the labour markets of Europe has not ensured equality between male and female workers or resulted in any significant reduction in labour market gender segregation. Factors suggested by the literature as involved in women's atypical career choice (i. e. occupations where concentrations of women are 30% or less) are investigated in four contexts, the former German Democratic Republic and the former Federal Republic of Germany, and the two regions after Genpan reunification. Following the hypothesis that the functionality of factors influencing the typicality of women's career choices are dominated by the context (external factors) in which the choices are made, three levels of investigation are undertaken. First, national aggregated data are analysed to establish the extent of labour market gender segregation in East and West Germany before and after reunification. Second, using a large sample of 17 to 29 year old women from East and West Germany, a causal model of personal and micro-contextual (internal) factors deemed by the literature as being involved in women's atypical career choice is tested against data from two cross-sectional databases gathered immediately after German reunification and again six years later. Finally, the accounts of 93 women currently engaged in atypical careers in East and West Germany are analysed. Based on the women's accounts, a typology of atypical career choice is developed. Findings show that the motives for, and modes of entry into atypical careers is varied and strongly dependent on context (external factors). It was also found that atypical career choices made later in life reflect different motives and modes of entry, and reflect a strong increase in the effect of chance. Other findings indicate that women are not primarily motivated by the atypicality of the work but by particular attributes of the work in question.