The Makeshift Careers of Women in Malawi: Neither Traditional Nor Flexible

Tiyesere Chikapa, Jill Rubery, Isabel Tavora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through qualitative research into the career experiences of two groups of Malawian professional women, this article reveals the value of expanding research into women’s careers to the global south. Although displaying elements of western-focused traditional and new career models, these women’s careers did not conform to either. Instead, due to heavy family responsibilities for both care and breadwinning, including for the extended family, and faced with inflexible human resource practices, their careers were mostly characterised by serial compromises necessary to maintain full-time continuous employment while dealing with life events and workplace setbacks. These accommodations to the realities of their complicated lives often resulted in second-best, far-from-ideal solutions. This career form, conceptualised here as a makeshift career, extends career models to fit the Malawian context and the global south but also expands conceptual understandings of women’s careers in ways also applicable to the north.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Employment & Society
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2023


  • Malawi
  • career models
  • women’s careers
  • work–family reconciliation
  • work–life balance


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