The Third Career: Revisiting the Home vs. Work Choice in Middle Age

By Milica Z. Bookman | Go to book overview

Yet, middle-aged women with choices, more than other members of the female population, may have a better chance at actually deriving bigger benefits and incurring lower costs of work than most women (this is discussed in Chapter 11). While middle-aged working women largely look forward to retirement in order to find peace and to do all those things they never had time to do before, nonworking women with choices are also aspiring to do what they haven't done in a long time, namely, to work for pay. But they aspire to do it in a unique way. They don't want just any job. As discussed in Chapter 10, women with choices go for that which is apt to maximize their satisfaction. They want to do what they love and they want to love what they do.


CONCLUSIONS

Several tentative relationships can be described on the basis of the evidence provided by the respondents. 11 First, there seems to be no correlation between the quality of a woman's marriage and her aspirations to do something new. When a marriage is good, it follows that a husband will support his wife in her choices. Such support will stimulate her aspirations. Indeed, women who had aspirations to enter the workforce or go back to school reported that their marriages were good and that they expected their husbands would support them in their choices. However, women who reported to have bad marriages (and were either divorced or still married) also had strong aspirations to change their lives. Therefore, the quality of the marriage did not determine women's aspirations. It is also noted that there was no link between the quality of marriage and the husband's support among three of the Hispanic respondents. Although these women described their marriages as good, they simultaneously regretted that their husbands neither understand nor supported their aspirations.

Second, there seems to be no correlation between the quantity of education women attained in their youth and their aspirations in middle age. While women with post-graduate degrees are possibly more aware of their ability to achieve what they set out to achieve, there are also highly focused and motivated women with no professional degrees who have aspirations to work or study. A post- graduate degree only seems to affect women's goals for the future insofar as the women who have them tend to have clearer ideas about their future goals (possibly because they plan on staying within their professions).

Finally, there seems to be no correlation between the length of women's previous work and their current aspirations. In other words, those who had long careers prior to their hiatus were no more likely to have strong aspirations to work in middle age than those who frequently zigzaged in and out of the labor force. For every woman who had a satisfying previous career and who yearns to relive its benefits there is a woman who had neither a meaningful nor long work life and therefore wants to experience it in middle age.


Notes
1.
Marianne Faithful, "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," Marianne Faithful's Greatest Hits, Uni/Abkco, 1969.

-60-

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The Third Career: Revisiting the Home vs. Work Choice in Middle Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Part I REALITIES xix
  • Chapter 1: The Profile of Middle-Aged Women with Choices 1
  • Chapter 2: Evolving Expectations of Women with Choices 17
  • Part II INCENTIVES 43
  • Chapter 3 the Transformation of Aspirations 45
  • Notes 60
  • Chapter 4: The Redefinition of Leisure 63
  • Chapter 5: The Reevaluation of Volunteer Work 79
  • Part III CONDITIONS 89
  • Chapter 7: The Accommodating Work Environment 101
  • Part IV CAPACITIES 119
  • Chapter 8: Advantages to Be Harnessed 121
  • Chapter 9: Obstacles to Be Overcome 137
  • Part V BENEFITS 155
  • Chapter 10 Social Benefits: the Economic Contribution of Women with Choices 157
  • Notes 177
  • Chapter 11: Individual Benefits 179
  • Appendix I Method 189
  • Notes 192
  • Appendix II Empirical Overview: Women with Choices in America and in the Sample 193
  • Notes 197
  • Appendix III The Survey 199
  • Selected Bibliography 211
  • Index 215
  • About the Author 219
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