This paper uses the findings of a recent study of professional women returning to work after a career break. It critically examines their return to work following attendance of a European funded updating course, and evaluates the initiative in terms of job and career success in terms of the women’s own perceptions. The study showed that the majority of women resumed work following the updating programme, but not necessarily at a level commensurate with their qualifications and experience, nor in their original professional area. Paradoxically, the respondents did not always see this as a negative outcome, and a large proportion of them attributed their successful return to completion of the professional updating course. The paper concludes by suggesting that a traditional female career model has not only continued relevance for women, but may be increasingly relevant to men. This presents a challenge to both policy makers and course providers.