The use of career genograms as a descriptor of women's career identity development in a community job development program
Davis, Trina Lowery
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Although vocational theorists have long emphasized the family as an important influence on an individual's career decision making, psychological research on this aspect of vocational development has, to date, been minimal. Traditional research has examined career identity development in tenns of discrete, operationally-defined variables, failing to offer substantial contributions to our understanding of career identity fonnation, or to guide or infonn future research. This qualitative study used career genograms to investigate, phenomenologically, the family influences on the career identity fonnation of 22 women in a major metropolitan area who sought career counseling at a community-based job development program. Audio recordings of semistructured interviews were used to record women's experiences as they reviewed their family history using career genograms. The transcribed data were analyzed using a grounded theory method of analysis, in which concepts were identified and categorized from the raw data, with interpretation provided for emerging patterns. Eleven themes emerged from coding the transcriptions, partially as a function of the questions used during the interviews and partially as a result of the interpretive process. Nine of the themes related to interview questions and two emerged from interpretative analysis. The nine themes related to interview questions were: ( 1) unrealized career aspirations of self and/or family members, (2) current family influences on the women's career motivation, (3) family encouragement of employment choices, (4) family messages about employment, (5) family encouragement/discouragement of the women's academic achievement, ( 6) personal motivation for employment, (7) influences of race and ethnicity on employment, (8) impact of education and income on employment, and (9) perceptions about gender differences and employment. The two themes which emerged from interpretation of the data were (1) transgenerational themes and (2) metathemes (recurring themes which surfaced in the women's answers regardless of the specific question being asked).