Sex Roles

, Volume 14, Issue 11–12, pp 647–662 | Cite as

Stability and change in role innovation and life plans

  • Sandra Schwartz Tangri
  • Sharon Rae Jenkins


Trends in women's labor force participation between 1967 and 1981 are noted as background to this 14-year longitudinal study of 117 women who graduated from college in 1967 and were studied in 1967, 1970, and 1981. The women represent a stratified random sample of the graduating class of 1967 from one large midwestern university. The three strata are role-innovators (women in male-dominated occupations, traditionals (women in female-dominated occupations), and moderates (women in occupations having 30 to 50% women). Samplewide changes are consistent with national trends: increased employment, increased role-innovation, greater educational achievement, and later and smaller families than expected in 1967. There was also a dramatic increase in perceived conflict between marriage and career. Within these trends, however, large parts of the sample showed strong consistency: 81% of the original role innovators and 69% of the original traditionals were still role-innovators and traditionals, respectively, in 1981. This longer term consistency overrode a great deal of temporary change in the traditional direction between 1967 and 1970, particularly for the role innovators and moderates. Much of this temporary shift was associated with early child rearing. Factors associated with increased role innovation and increased traditionality were the importance women gave to having a career, the relative priorities they placed on career vs family, their expectations of marriage-career conflict, and their expections of husband's acceptance of their career. Increased role innovation was also associated with attaining more education, not marrying, and having fewer children.


Labor Force Participation Educational Achievement Stratify Random Sample Relative Priority Strong Consistency 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Schwartz Tangri
    • 1
  • Sharon Rae Jenkins
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHoward UniversityWashington, D.C.
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaBerkeley

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