Gendered constructions of luck at work: The case of career narratives of female and male managers

Mahan Poorhosseinzadeh, Mustafa Ozbilgin, Glenda Strachan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a ubiquitous assumption that luck is a gender-neutral and equally distributed phenomenon. Drawing on 50 interviews with female and male managers, we examine their constructions of luck at work and demonstrate the gendered construction of luck in career narratives. Despite the dearth of attention to luck in the career literature, luck often features into career narratives of professional workers. In line with the literature, we define the construct of luck as something outside the locus of control of individuals. Yet, we identify that luck is a gendered construct in career narratives. We demonstrate that while female managers define luck as receiving equality of opportunity in the process of their careers, male managers define luck as structures of support that offer them opportunities above and beyond their merit at work, which is a privilege that men appear to enjoy. The perception and interpretation of luck have far-reaching effects on addressing and comprehending gender disparities in career advancement, decision-making, negotiation and organisational leadership. Recognising the gender-specific impact of luck is vital in promoting gender equality and offering equitable chances for the career progression of women and non-privileged employees. It offers a persuasive option to challenge the dominant meritocratic assumptions on equality of chances, structures and the distribution of resources
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalGender Issues
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2024


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