, Volume 19, Issue 3-4, pp 189-203

College women's career and motherhood expectations: New options, old dilemmas

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Women who desire to both work and parent are faced with the dilemma of how to integrate potentially conflicting roles and responsibilities. This study explores 250 college women's thinking about careers and childbearing. The results suggest that although these young women have been rethinking their career options and expanding their career choices into areas that have been traditionally male dominated, there is little indication of a reciprocal change in thinking about the primacy of mothering. All of the women expected to have careers, but few planned to be child free or have only one child. Women pursuing innovative careers were, however, less child oriented than those planning careers moderately innovative or traditional for women. The findings are discussed in the context of these women's proposed strategies for managing conflicting demands of work and family roles. These strategies include delayed childbearing, equalitarian marriages, and part-time work.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, August 1986. The authors thank Mary Temke and Nancy Winterbottom for comments on a previous draft.