This study explores the career experiences of women who hold leadership positions within the field of corrections as Wardens and Superintendents. Specifically the research seeks to examine the personal biographies of these women in an effort to document life experiences shaping their occupational choices. Twenty nine interviews were conducted with wardens and superintendents from 13 states. Subjects were questioned about family, education, perceptions of occupational choice, and career aspirations. Generational differences exist between female wardens in relation to boarder social trends in gender and occupation. The more support women receive from parents and family to pursue education and careers, the more likely they were to have clearly established goals toward that end. The more educational and career opportunities women perceive and being available, the more likely they will pursue those goals. The role of women in the field of corrections has changed dramatically over the past fifty years and women working in corrections are redefining femininity in a masculine organizational culture.


Gender, Socialization, Occupations, Work, Wardens, Corrections, Interviews

Author Bio(s)

Karen A. Altendorf is a visiting professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bucknell University. Please direct correspondence to kaa025@bucknell.edu.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



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