Changing, evolving, persisting: Exploring the role of masculinity in careers and family


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The framework of masculinity (or the prescribed behaviors/characteristics of men) as a social construct is varied across actors in modern society. While traditional gendered expectations position men as the breadwinner and women as the caregiver (Eagly, 1987; Eagly et al., 2020), some modern gender views call for egalitarianism where all participate equally in work and home (McGill, 2014). While this “new” masculinity framework has been accepted by some people, there is variation in acceptance such that masculinity is evolving for some while traditional masculinity persists for others. 
This varied view of masculinity is critical to explaining career decisions and related workplace behaviors because prescribed expectations (such as those along gendered lines) are thought to drive behavior (Eagly, 1987). More specific to careers, masculine expectations are of critical importance given the longstanding framing of alignment with male prototypes as critical for career success under theories such as ideal worker (Acker, 1990) and masculinity contest cultures (Berdahl et al., 2018).Together, this explains why greater gender egalitarianism allows for more discontinuous careers for men (Mainiero & Sullivan, 2006) and greater work-life balance (Lyness & Judiesch, 2014) with relevance for career sustainability and satisfaction. 
Moreover, the workplace operates within an ecosystem wherein the actions of one actor impact various others (Baruch et al., 2015). Thus, the varying expectations of masculinity across actors have relevance for men and those around them of all genders such as supervisors, subordinates, and family members. For example, research suggests supervisor support has implications for whether employees use organizationally offered benefits (Kim & Mullins, 2016). Accordingly, a supervisor with traditional gendered expectations may encourage different usage of family-friendly work policies across gender lines compared to a supervisor with egalitarian gender beliefs with implications for family and career success and continuance. 
This special issue aims to examine how various framings of masculinity impacts careers. This is timely given traditional expectations persist for some whereas more contemporary calls for gender egalitarianism have been accepted and embraced by others; this underscores the simultaneous evolution and persistence of masculinity in current society. Given gender norms drive behavior (Eagly, 1987; Eagly et al., 2020), research must address how employees of all genders navigate masculine norms during a period of time wherein masculinity expectations can vary from a societal, workplace, family, or personal perspective. Moreover, the larger impact across the social network should be considered in line with ecosystem theories of the workplace (Baruch et al., 2015). Through these ideas, greater understanding of how masculinity impacts careers will be achieved, facilitating the identification of potential challenges, opportunities, and interventions aimed at gender equity and well-being in the workplace.

List of Topic Areas

While not limited to these ideas, relevant research topics (with related implications for careers and theory steeped in masculinity) include: 

  • Masculinity contest culture 
  • Precarious manhood
  • Ideal worker norms 
  • Intersectional considerations related to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, and/or country of residence 
  • Work/family gendered expectations of focal actors, family members, work peers, subordinates, and/or supervisors 
  • Gender-related usage of career/family supportive policies (e.g., parental leave)

Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.
Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see here.
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key Deadlines

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31/01/2025


Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender and Society, 4(2), 139–158. 
Baruch, Y. (2015). Organizational and labor markets as career ecosystem. In Handbook of Research on Sustainable Careers (pp. 364–380). Edward Elgar Publishing.…
Berdahl, J. L., Cooper, M., Glick, P., Livingston, R. W., & Williams, J. C. (2018). Work as a masculinity contest. Journal of Social Issues, 74(3), 422–448.
Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social role interpretation. Erlbaum. 
Eagly, A. H., Miller, D. I., Nater, C., Kaufmann, M., & Sczesny, S. (2020). Gender Stereotypes Have Changed. American Psychologist, 75((3), 301–315. 
Kim, T., & Mullins, L. B. (2016). How does supervisor support and diversity management affect employee participation in work/family policies? Review of Public Personnel Administration, 36(1), 80–105. 
Lyness, K. S., & Judiesch, M. K. (2014). Gender egalitarianism and work–life balance for managers: Multisource perspectives in 36 countries. Applied Psychology, 63(1), 96–129.
Mainiero, L. A., & Sullivan, S. E. (2006). The opt-out revolt: Why people are leaving companies to create kaleidoscope careers. Davis-Black. 
McGill, B. S. (2014). Navigating new norms of involved fatherhood: Employment, fathering attitudes, and father involvement. Journal of Family Issues, 35(8), 1089–1106.