A Lifespan Perspective
Chapter 7: What Lessons Have We Learned?
7. What lessons have we learned? If we look at the experiences of one group of graduates from two Northeastern US state universities reported between their final days in college in the early 1980s and the middle of their lives in 2006–07, we can begin to answer some of the questions posed in the introduction about how women in the last quarter of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century navigated their lives between college and middle-age. In this study the women answered written questionnaires for Phase I when they were college students in the early 1980s. They responded again to written questionnaires for Phase II in 1990–91 and for Phase III in 2000–01, and then participated in personal or telephone interviews for Phase IV in 2006–07 that looked back over the whole time period. SUMMARIES OF EACH GROUP The women were divided into four groups based on different life patterns: fulltime career women who had never left the labor force for three years or more, part-time career women who had worked in a part-time capacity for three years or more, homemakers who had left the labor force completely for three or more years, and entrepreneurs and self-employed business women who had pursued these options for three or more years. The individual chapters in Part II used open-ended questions from all three written questionnaires as well as the women’s responses to the Phase IV interviews to present representative life stories of a...
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