Sex Roles

, Volume 23, Issue 9–10, pp 515–533 | Cite as

Having it all? Combining work and family in a male and a female profession

  • Josephine E. Olson
  • Irene Hanson Frieze
  • Ellen G. Detlefsen


Are women in a female-dominated profession more successfully able to combine work and family obligations than women in a male-dominated profession? To explore this question, a comparison was made between the family status and careers of 747 women librarians (a female-dominated profession) and those of 449 women MBAs (a male-dominated profession). It was expected that the librarians would marry earlier and have more children. This general prediction was not supported. Over half of both groups of women were married, and after controlling for age, there were no differences in number of children. However, many women without children in both groups reported that they would like to be mothers. This disparity between wanting children and not having them was more common for women MBAs than women MLSs. MBAs and librarians were about equally likely to have had job interruptions, but librarians were more likely to have worked part-time. Reasons for an interruption to full-time work were as likely to be for problems finding (full-time) work as for family responsibilities. Librarians' salaries were much lower, but job interruptions and part-time work had a more negative effect on the salaries of women in business. In sum, the data suggest that many of the women surveyed have not combined motherhood with a professional career and that it is probably somewhat more difficult to combine a family with a career in business than with a career in library science.


Social Psychology General Prediction Family Status Family Responsibility Library Science 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josephine E. Olson
    • 1
  • Irene Hanson Frieze
    • 1
  • Ellen G. Detlefsen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PittsburghUSA

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