Skills for stressful
BY BERTE RUBIN
Roles - learned, copied, enforced or
Today, 64% of the female population 16 years and over with children work full time. As might have been expected, the appropriation of a career role over those of daughter, wife and mother has not much changed popular conceptions of the traditional roles but only created a new stereotype, the superwoman. The work I did for my doctorate in Adult Education demonstrates conclusively that married, professional women with children are profoundly competent in managing their lives without undue amounts of stress nor recourse to supernatural powers. In other words, the "superwoman" myth is unfounded.
I studied stress reactions among married, middle-aged "superwomen" with children. Married professional women with children were the exception rather than the rule 25 years ago. I chose them for the study on the assumption that role conflict would be most pronounced in women who, in their formative years, were socialized to consider the roles of wife and mother paramount. Their experiences in coping with the role of professional along with the expectations of being a wife and mother afford valuable insights about the effectiveness of coping resources available, and provide guidance to the increasing number of women who are assuming these three roles.
Sixty urban, married, professional women between the ages of 40 and 60 with children were studied. These women work full time as doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers, accountants, architects and business owners or executives. They were interviewed and were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire.