Christian Women Discuss the Influence of Faith on their Career Development
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For many young adults, career decision-making is a challenge that may lead to feelings of disequilibrium, stress, and anxiety. This disequilibrium may be especially problematic for young Christian women. On one hand, their belief system may provide a stabilizing anchor, and embue them with a sense of purpose (Fowler, 1981). On the other hand, distinct Christian values may further perpetuate traditional male-female roles and thus limit their labour force participation (Scott, 2002). To better understand this dichotomy and add to the limited research on this topic, my study explored the relationship between Christian faith and career development with a sample of four women (ages 33 to 51) already established in their careers. Research data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews. Each interview was preceded by the construction of a lifeline, or timeline of major events in the participant’s life (Campbell & Ungar, 2004). Themes emerging from case and cross analyses were (a) life story, (b) centrality of motherhood, and (c) spiritual grounding. These three themes were first reported for each participant as an individual case, and then in an overview of findings across cases. Implications for post-secondary career counsellors, based on this study’s results, as well as on relevant literature, focus on incorporating the notion of calling into three traditional career development activities: (a) self-discovery; (b) exploration and research; and (c) formulating a plan. Implications for career development researchers include: (a) creating a comprehensive theory reflecting spiritual and non-spiritual factors in women’s career development; (b) studying this topic with different methodologies; and (c) undertaking a best practices study of career programs integrating calling at secular or non-secular universities. These practical and theoretical implications may provide post-secondary career counsellors guidance on how to direct young women of diverse faith backgrounds to explore and pursue their fields of choice.