Seekers, Finders, Settlers, and Stumblers: Identifying the Career Paths of Males in the Genetic Counseling Profession

Anthony Chen, Pat Mc Carthy Veach, Cheri Schoonveld, Heather Zierhut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Genetic counseling is a female-dominated profession, with 96% of counselors self-identifying as female. Research suggests gender diversification benefits healthcare professionals and the populations they serve. Therefore, this study explored how men choose a genetic counseling career, associations between career satisfaction and their career entry dynamics and experience levels, and differences due to experience level in how they decide on this profession. Twenty-five novice, experienced, or seasoned male counselors and 8 male genetic counseling students participated in semi-structured phone interviews. Interpretive content and cross-case analyses of interview data were informed by Simpson’s “Seekers, Finders, and Settlers” theory describing career entry dynamics of men in non-traditional (i.e., female-dominated) fields. Results revealed 13 interviewees were Seekers, who initially knew they wanted a career in genetic counseling, actively chose the profession, and were satisfied with their decision. Eleven were Settlers, who had tried different, traditional jobs, with limited satisfaction before actively finding and choosing genetic counseling. Two were Finders, who discovered genetic counseling while in the career decision making process and made a passive choice to pursue it as they had no feasible, satisfactory alternative. Seven men fit a new category, we termed “Stumblers,” who were in another career and satisfied, but changed to genetic counseling after happening to hear about it. Prevalent themes pertaining to participants’ experiences in the career include desire for a multidisciplinary career; lack of a priori knowledge of genetic counselor roles; late exposure to the profession; and varied perceptions of being in a non-traditional career. There were few differences due to experience level and career satisfaction was high across the sample. Results suggest earlier exposure to the career and availability of detailed descriptions of its multidisciplinary nature may increase the number of males in the profession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)948-962
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc.


  • Career interests
  • Career satisfaction
  • Experience levels
  • Gender diversity
  • Male genetic counselors
  • Recruitment


Dive into the research topics of 'Seekers, Finders, Settlers, and Stumblers: Identifying the Career Paths of Males in the Genetic Counseling Profession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this