University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Vertical occupational segregation and secretaries: A multiple case study of structure and agency.

Mesmer, Marie. (2000) Vertical occupational segregation and secretaries: A multiple case study of structure and agency. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.

Download (82MB) | Preview


This sociological study investigates how the process of vertical occupational segregation by sex is maintained at the end of the 20th century. It explores the secretarial role and opportunities for career advancement beyond this "pink-collar" occupation within four organizations in England that were self-identified as promoting equal opportunities. The evidence stems from case studies conducted at the BBC in 1992 and at the BBC, Channel Four, Rank Xerox, and Unilever in 1994. Data were collected in three forms: (i) semi-structured interviews; 18 with mid- to senior-level secretaries, 10 with managers, and 13 with personnel representatives; (ii) office observations; and (iii) materials related to the individual companies, Opportunity 2000, and the European Community. Secretaries' opportunities for advancement were found to be rare. A pink-collar wall, rather than a glass ceiling, was discovered, due to a combination of structural constraints and the actions, or agency, of secretaries. This research extends the dual-systems model of occupational segregation by using the case study methodology and by including women's experiences and behaviour within the theoretical framework. This study expands current knowledge about the lives of ordinary working women and the persistent phenomenon of occupational segregation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Date : 2000
Contributors :
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 09 Nov 2017 12:10
Last Modified : 16 Mar 2018 19:53

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800