The masculinization of everyone? : a study of a profession in gender transition
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This thesis is an exploration of how professional status is gained and sustained. Sociologists, in taking for granted which occupations are universally identified as professions have concentrated their studies on elite occupations, primarily law and medicine. Their attention has been focussed on the occupational, organizational and behavioural characteristics of these professions, rather than the personal or social characteristics of the incumbents. Consequently, although acknowledging that class, gender and race can provide or limit the resources for professionalizing, these personal attributes have not been considered central to the understanding of the term profession. The research is concerned with the relationship between professional status and gender in probation during a period in its history when it faced considerable threats. It traces the profession's history and maps its rise and fall in relation to its changing gendered composition, culminating in the government's decision to remove the prior qualification for practice in 1995 in order to attract ex-servicemen into probation. The reconstruction of probation into a credible profession is the substantive focus of this study. The analysis of the reconstruction is through a gendered lens and a discourse analytical approach is used to examine texts prepared by probation to promote its cause. This thesis concludes that the status of an occupation is directly related to its gendered construction and to be considered a 'full' profession requires middle class masculinity. Whilst masculine characteristics continue to be necessary for influence and success, the constant drift towards the masculinization of everyone undermines the contribution women can make to organizations and services. In retrospectively revealing the processes through which masculinization and professionalization are discursively achieved, the study opens up the possibility for future challenges to the devaluation of occupations dominated by women.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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