Women's Decision-Making: Common Themes-- Irish Voices

By Nancy W. Veeder | Go to book overview

new, roles for women; they were equally aware of the fact, frequently expressed with wry humor, that although they had struggled so hard working at these issues, they had by no means worked them through. They are the transition generation in the midst of these gender conundrums. One Middle group respondent described her occupation as "survivor"; another poignantly observed, "I faced a terrible challenge." They dealt with marriage, children, separation, divorce, abortion, single parenthood, sexism, and discrimination. They kept and cherished what they considered to be the best qualities from their much-admired mothers, yet had to vehemently assert their differences from them.

The Younger group (ages thirteen to thirty) gives every indication of having benefitted from their mothers' struggles. They are quite self-assured, more like their grandmothers in spirit but without the often constricting parameters, boundaries, and prohibitions of their grandmothers' lives. They are by no means complacent, but they know who they are and who they intend to be in a future of ever expanding possibilities for women. What is both astounding and a testament to the legacy of the Middle generation and its sometimes "terrible challenges" is the relatively young age at which they have thought, frequently in some depth, about women's roles, particularly in relation to decision-making.

All three generations have given a good picture of women's decision- making processes, which they perceive as quite different from male decision-making. The female decision-making style, with all its strengths, is extremely effective. Women perceive that they have unique ways of "winning," ways that are not based on organizational power, status, and role descriptions and constrictions. By engaging in decision-making on their own terms, women possess considerable actual power, particularly in their domain over life itself, its development and the maximization of its potential. Primarily within the context of the family, but elsewhere as well when given the opportunity, women demonstrate considerable ability to marshall resources--human and material--to get things done. They are so effective in this exercise of power due to the incisiveness and comprehensiveness of their decisions.


NOTE
1.
Although women in this exploratory study agreed that women take different factors into consideration in making decisions than do men, specifically within the context of the family, the direction of future studies might most productively focus on differences between the way women and men in public contexts such as the professions of law and medicine engage in decision-making.

-128-

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