Provided by Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
"Making life better"
Levinson, D. J. (1996). Seasons of a woman’s life. NY: Knopf
I read it, so you don't have to. No, seriously, below are some excerpts from Levinson's book on adult women's development. I would highly recommend it. If you still have not picked a book for your book review for this course (you slacker, you), this would be a good one. Hey, it could help you on the final exam, too.
Personally, I would have assumed that mothers who stayed
at home would have a closer relationship with their children. However,
at least with the 15 housewives in Levinson's story, this didn’t seem to
be the case.
"The homemakers generally saw the kids off to school in the morning and received them at home in the afternoon. It was important to be sure that the kids were 'well adjusted' in school and community, and to intervene if there were serious problems. But they were generally not very close to the children and did not know much about their actual life experiences." p. 156
"While continually seeking balance, most women found it impossible to give anything like equal priority to the various components of the life structure. In general, occupation was by far the first priority, motherhood second, marriage a poor third, leisure and friendship a rare luxury, and with all the external tasks to be done, almost no time for the self. The women’s lives were usually hectic, at times chaotic and exhausting. Nevertheless, most women considered their lives to be relatively satisfactory and worth the effort." p 349Why, given all of the talk in our society about "family values", "motherhood" and all that, would women still put their careers first? As a woman who fit this profile for many years, I would suggest it is because they have no other choice if they are going to compete with the men. I had this drilled into me in graduate school in business. (Yes, my first masters degree was an MBA). If we could not be there on the weekends, travel overnight and in a hundred other ways give the same 110% to the corporation that the men did, then we couldn't expect the same compensation or opportunities for promotion, now could we? As a supervisor myself, I have been 'guilty' if that same way of thinking. If I need a grant written it needs to be done by the deadline and regardless of how many children a person has or whether one of them has the chicken pox or a school play, we are not getting the money unless that grant is in on time. So, if I can’t count on Maria to get it out on time, I guess I will have to assign the work to Bill, and when raises and promotions come around....
It is not surprising then, that women put their work first, if they are to have any prayer of having a career which is equally successful with a man's. The unfairness of the situation arises in part from the fact that men often have wives at home to take care of the children and women don't. As the research cited in your textbook has shown, having children is an occupational detriment to women but not to men. Childless women make more money and are more likely to attain positions in upper management.
Why does marriage come so far third? I believe it is because work demands are pressing and must be met if we are going to keep that job, get that raise or promotion. Children’s demands are clear, loud and often difficult to avoid. Mothers feel a sense of responsibility (and guilt). On the other hand, with all of these competing demands, it is easy for the wife to look on her husband’s needs as just another addition to her mountain of responsibilities and to think "For God's sake, he’s an adult, why can't he look after himself?!"
And where does marriage come in from the male perspective? From the women's reports, their husbands didn't appear to be putting marriage first either.
"In the first years of marriage, many young women found their sex lives increasingly unsatisfactory. Also, her husband was more traditional and less supportive than she had earlier imagined. In most cases he assumed that, once the children arrived, the wife would be primarily responsible for child-rearing and housekeeping. Though appreciative of his wife's talent as student or novice worker, he often had difficulty in accommodating to the demands of her career." p 278
"We experience work and career from a more private, personal perspective. It becomes less important to ask, "How successful am I in the eyes of the world?’ and more important to ask ‘What do I give and receive from my work?’" p 374.
During middle adulthood, women come to the realization that not everything is the way they were taught in Sunday School and Civics class. In fact, we are NOT all treated equally, and even after you control for differences in major, years of experience, education, type of industry, etc. significant differences still exist between men’s and women’s pay and promotional opportunities, especially at the upper echelon. There is a glass ceiling, a point above which women seem to have great difficulty breaking into the corporate or academic hierarchy. There is also what has been called a ‘sticky floor’, that is, bright young women are hired into positions such as file clerk, secretary, waitress, etc. from which there is no real career path upward. Young men, in contrast, are hired as management trainees, assistant managers, analysts, and so on, from which there are clear steps to follow to get to the top of the corporation, while the young women are stuck at the bottom. "Lack of skills" is given as the pure, nondiscriminatory motive for not promoting those young women, completely overlooking the fact that they were hired into positions in the first place which did not give them the opportunity to develop those skills.
This may be one reason that the women in Levinson's study
(both older and younger) reported few instances of mentoring of younger
women by older women who were farther along in the corporation. The younger
women tended to believe that all but a very few career options were open
to them, that if they worked hard, they would have just as much success
as their male counterparts and that the experiences of the older women
breaking into 'a man’s world' were largely irrelevant to them, the younger
generation, who would have equal opportunities. The statistics on women's
pay and promotion, however, suggest that maybe they should have "listened
to their mothers" after all, and that, perhaps, older women's experience
is not as far removed from the present-day situation as young women naively
choose to believe.
Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
Email us at: Info@SpiritLakeConsulting.com
An Indian-owned business