Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career and by Kathleen Gerson

By Kathleen Gerson

How do girls make a choice from paintings and relations commitments? And what are the explanations, limits, and outcomes of the "subtle revolution" in women's offerings over the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies? to reply to those questions, Kathleen Gerson analyzes the stories of a gently chosen team of middle-class and working-class ladies who have been teenagers within the Seventies. Their informative lifestyles histories exhibit the rising social forces in American society that experience led present day girls to stand numerous tough choices.

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Extra info for Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career and Motherhood

Sample text

Before she could fully assimilate the implications of her situation, she was divorced and out on her own for the first time in her life. Desperate for a paycheck, she wandered into an employment agency looking for a job, any job. They placed her in a small company, where she started as a receptionist and office manager. She quickly made herself indispensable and over a period of about five years worked her way up the organization to her present position of executive vice-president. Elizabeth is now in her mid-thirties, and there appear to be few limits on how high she can rise.

For each, adult life went according to plan. Neither experienced a substantial change in life goals or emo- Women's Work and Family Decisions I 13 tional priorities as she moved into and through adulthood. Both were also insulated from events that might have caused them to veer off their expected life paths: They were neither pushed out of the home by economic necessity or marital instability nor pulled into the workplace by expanding opportunities. They thus remained committed to the domestic path they assumed was a woman's proper place.

As used here, the term "traditional" thus refers to the type of female homemaker and mother who gained ascendency in the midtwentieth century, and not to an idealized image that probably never predominated in the more distant past. ) 10 / Hard Choices among different cohorts at different ages. This table reveals an interesting difference between the baby boom mothers born between 1930 and 1940 and the baby boom offspring born between 1945 and 1959. Although only about 20 percent of the women in the older group were childless by the time they reached their late twenties, well over 30 percent of the younger group remained childless throughout their twenties.

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