Gender, Work & Organisation

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Women's self‐presentation and the transition from classroom to workplace

Organizations place context‐specific appearance demands on women — demands that often echo wider inequalities, require adaptation of self‐presentation and impact on women's careers. Despite this, the effect of life and career stage transition on women's self‐presentation and embodied identities remains largely unexplored. Drawing on a qualitative study of young British women's body modification, this article examines what impact transitioning from education into the world of work has on women's self‐presentation and body modification regimes and their embodied identities. Body modification here refers to all methods women use to alter their physical body and appearance (e.g., invasive or non‐invasive; self‐administered or other‐administered; permanent or temporary), provided the intention of their use is primarily to alter the user's physical appearance. Expectations of transition, the impact of entering the workplace and of career establishment are considered as well as the significance of career stage and vulnerability for resistance and negotiation of organizational expectations. Transition of life stage is found to be a catalyst for self‐presentation change. The transition from education to work is identified as having a significant impact on body modification practices across workplaces.

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