Facilitators and inhibitors of occupational change in middle-aged, married, career-oriented women
By: Ruth Licht
Published: 1977
Uploaded: 10/19/2006
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: employment, Married women, Middle-aged women, Occupational mobility, Vocational interests

Ruth Licht
This exploratory interview study attempted to identify facilitators and inhibitors of occupational change in 20 college-educated, career-oriented mothers, aged 35 through 47. Specifically, it examined: (1) the influence upon participantsĂ occupational change of their educational and vocational backgrounds, sex-role stereotyping, financial needs and resources, midlife concerns, family stage, husbandsĂ attitudes, the WomenĂs Movement, and significant others; (2) the meshing of participantsĂ family and work careers; and (3) changes anticipated by participants in their family or work roles to improve their fit.
Several interacting factors facilitated participantsĂ increased career commitment and interest in vocational change, although no single factor alone would have been a sufficiently potent precipitator of change. Major supports were: (1) the good health and vigor of the women and their families; (2) the financial security and comfort provided by husbandsĂ earnings which eliminated the need for wives to help support the family and which enabled them to finance new businesses or advanced schooling; (3) the WomenĂs Movement which publicized and legitimated both changes in the ways male and female social roles may be enacted and the expansion of role options for women; (4) family stage with children old enough for mothers to commit themselves to outside interests; (5) the supportiveness of husbands, therapists, teachers, occupational role models, and/or intimate friends; and, (6) several midlife factors which led participants to reformulate life goals and priorities in order to determine their future life course.
Traditional sex-role conventions were major constraints upon both vocational change and change of family patterns to ease management of work and family roles. For most women the need for sex-appropriate work was manifested in selection of traditionally female fields, despite their shrinking opportunities; lack of exploration of less conventional occupations and positions; absence of aspiration for high-level positions, great responsibility, or power; and disregard for financial compensation.
Almost all participants wanted to maintain the traditional division of roles which had been established in their households, and were uninterested in major reallocations of family responsibilities. In order to combine family and work careers comfortably, most of the women chose to limit their vocational activities rather than to contemplate changing long standing family patterns.
Although participants were able to take advantage of many facilitative resources in their life situations, their vocational change options were circumscribed by their prior socialization and education. In order to provide a fuller range of choice to women, certain changes in educational practices, services, and curricula were suggested for all school levels. In addition, recommendations were made for teaching the ˘how-to÷ of multiple role management and planning for life-span change in order to prepare students for future personal, family, work, and social role changes.

Sponsor: Ann Lieberman, Margaret Lindsey
Dissertation Committee: A. Harry Passow
Degree: Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University