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Career women, mothers, and wives: A qualitative analysis linking ethnicity, career development, and values clarification. (Volumes I and II)

Myra Ellen Edelstein, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The number of women joining the work force is greater today than it has ever been in the history of the United States. Between 1960 and 1988, statistics have shown a 37% increase in the number of employed women who are married with children (U.S. Department of Labor, 1989). It is not uncommon for women to postpone marriage and/or childbearing in an effort to attain educational and professional goals (Katz, 1988). Jewish women are a unique ethnic group among the population of women in the United States. As a group, Jewish women are typically well educated, among the highest female wage earners, married or plan to marry, and have or plan to have children (Monson, 1987). The difficult and complex decisions which Jewish women face regarding marriage, motherhood, and career development often create conflicts between values, including education, marriage, childbearing, individual achievement, career development, and gender equality (Monson, 1987; Katz, 1988). Additionally, unclear values or conflicting values can lead to difficulty in decision-making, difficulty in coping, and difficulty in achieving self-actualization (Simon & Kirschenbaum, 1973; Simon et al., 1978). Through in-depth interviews, this dissertation qualitatively analyzed five case studies demonstrating links between ethnicity, career development, and multiple role lifestyle for selected Jewish women. Some of the most interesting findings included: life polarities expressed by the participants; identification with superwoman syndrome; power of career typing, ethnic and secular socialization and both positive and negative messages received from parents, role models, and mentors; and the ability of this research paradigm to link ethnicity, career development and values. The ability of academe to provide research which describes and analyzes women's lifestyle options is tantamount to women's successful integration of marriage, family, career, personal growth and development. This research has important implications for counselors, educators and policy makers who are concerned about appropriate counseling, education, and program development for women who are occupying or may occupy multiple roles. This research further served as a successful pilot study testing the applicability of this conceptualization for replication encompassing women of other ethnic and racial groups.

Subject Area

Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Womens studies|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Edelstein, Myra Ellen, "Career women, mothers, and wives: A qualitative analysis linking ethnicity, career development, and values clarification. (Volumes I and II)" (1993). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9329603.