Dual-Career Families Re-Examined: New Integrations of Work & Family

Dual-Career Families Re-Examined: New Integrations of Work & Family

Dual-Career Families Re-Examined: New Integrations of Work & Family

Dual-Career Families Re-Examined: New Integrations of Work & Family

Excerpt

The term 'dual-career families' was coined to designate a type of family structure in which both heads of household -- the husband and the wife -- pursue active careers and family lives. 'Career' is sometimes used to indicate any sequence of jobs, but in its more precise meaning it designates those types of job sequences that require a high degree of commitment and that have a continuous developmental character. Many careers take form in the making rather than as a planned sequence or part of an organizational structure; they are apparent only retrospectively. And many non-career jobs may be performed with a high degree of commitment, though with little personal development or advancement in pay or status. However, barring situations of alienation, which may develop in any work context (the bored doctor, lawyer or professor who performs minimally), careers have an intrinsically demanding character.

Dual-career families existed before, but they had not been studied nor had they been designated as having distinctive structural properties. Our original study of dual-career families in the 1960s was part of a larger study by Political and Economic Planning (P.E.P.) on women in top jobs (Fogarty et al., 1967). We obtained a national overview of how women with high qualifications were disposed towards using their skills in the economy by conducting a survey drawn from a larger study of university graduates that was being completed for the University Vice Chancellor's Committee (Kelsall et al., 1972; Fogarty et al., 1971).

The survey data confirmed that there were sharp sex differences in the meaning of work outside the home in the lives of women as compared with men. Over 95 per cent of the men were employed and about 80 per cent expected to get major life satisfactions from their occupational work, and there was no question of whether they should have careers if they wished to.

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