As a developmental psychologist who studies the influence of family experiences on socialization, it is somewhat embarrassing to approach the task of describing the factors that shaped my career development by skipping over the family influences. I see my career as shaped more by what Bandura ( 1982) has called "chance encounters" and "fortuitous events" and by influences at the societal level --- particularly the prejudices of the times. Most of the important events that shaped my career were unplanned situations, and I chose the path of least resistance.
I was born in the same town in which my mother was born, Elmira, New York, a city of about forty-five thousand that is not near New York City or Buffalo or any other large city. It is in the center of farm country, of beautiful hills, near the Finger Lakes. I was the youngest child in a nonintellectual family. I had an advantage in school because I was middle class and most of my classmates were working class, and I was an honor student with little effort. I read books like the Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton series and Sue Barton, Student Nurse.
I wanted to go to college to get away from home -- for fun and adventure. My best friend and I chose the colleges to which we would apply on our own. Neither family had any advice to offer. Her parents both worked in a factory; mine owned a clothing store where both worked. My father had gone to school through the eighth grade. My mother had attended normal school after high school, and before her first child was born she had taught school in a one-room schoolhouse.
We chose Northwestern University, which we somehow learned had a good school of journalism, because we co-edited the school newspaper and thought we might be foreign correspondents like Marguerite Higgins; and Pembroke College, the "girls" school attached to Brown, because the picture on the brochure was very attractive. We were both rejected at Northwestern because "to create spaces for the returning GIs, we are not accepting out-of-state girls."
We were both accepted at Pembroke. However, in May I returned a form to indicate roommate preference in the dormitory on which I requested a Jewish roommate because I was Jewish and wanted to meet other Jewish girls. A return