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

By Milica Z. Bookman | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Obstacles to Be Overcome: Inertia, Discrimination, and Many More

"Why would anybody hire me? I'm just a mom. And anyway, I'm 47 years old. No one wants to hire people my age," said a mother of two grown children who organized over ten charity balls serving thousands of people.

"I can't even look for a job because I don't feel that I have anything to offer. I've forgotten everything I learned in college and graduate school," said a veteran volunteer who devoted over a decade of her life to organizing museum and synagogue functions.

"I didn't really do anything over the past 20 years and I don't really know how to do anything. What kind of job could I possibly get now, at 49?" said the mother of three healthy, happy, and successful adult children.

"I'd have to compete against people who have so much more work experience than I. What I've done doesn't count to working people. They have no respect for those of us who haven't worked for pay," said a woman who raised a son while serving as president of the PTA and principal organizer of several fundraising campaigns that raised some million dollars.

Atlas holding up the world? Hercules pushing a rock uphill? Finding one's way out of the Mycenean labyrinth? By comparison, none seem as daunting a task as that faced by middle-aged homemakers who aspire to enter the labor force. Despite their conviction that the skills they acquired in their homemaking careers have value, many middle-aged women are nevertheless apprehensive and skeptical about their transition into the working world.

Part of that apprehension stems from the knowledge that there are obstacles to be overcome before their employment goals can be achieved. These obstacles can be divided into two categories--internal and external. Internal obstacles stem from the women themselves, their own insecurities, their inability to formulate clear goals, and their proclivity to procrastinate. External obstacles, just as real and menacing, include family pressures at home and discrimination in the workplace, as well as concrete impediments such as inappropriate education, obsolete skills, or insufficient work experience.

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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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