The Experience and Meaning of Work in Women's Lives
Edited by Hildreth Y. Grossman, Nia Lane Chester
Psychology Press – 1989 – 296 pages
In the past, social scientists have relied predominantly on traditional models of work to understand women's experiences. These models, however, have been based on men's occupational experiences, which have been assumed to be the same for women. More recently, researchers and theorists from a variety of disciplines have begun to challenge earlier assumptions as inaccurate reflections of the realities for female workers. Newer studies have concentrated on the historical and social reasons for women's employment and career choices, including changes in economy, family, and social conditions.
To provide a deeper understanding of women worker's realities by including the meaning they make of their work experiences, the editors have assembled the research of social scientists from various disciplines whose investigations focused exclusively on this subject. Their qualitative methodology provides a forum for women to voice issues, raise questions, and share self-reflections about their work experiences and the meaning they make of their work in the context of the rest of their lives.
The common themes that are interwoven within the fabric of women's work experience are: the need to expand traditional definitions of what constitutes "work;" the fluid nature of boundaries between personal life and work life; the importance of the relational aspects of their work; the issues related to the uses of power at work; the role of work in the development of women's sense of self and personal identity; and the degree to which women's work experience is colored by discrimination and sexism.
"Hildreth Grossman and Abigail Stewart, for example, succeed in illuminating both (anticipated) negative and (unexpected) positive feelings that therapists and professors have about their power…"
"…the chapters contain important new information on working women's experiences….this excellent book represents a successful attempt to provide information on an aspect of women's lives that has been ignored by social scientists -- women's subjective experience of work….it provides an invaluable resource to scholars who are pursuing issues concerning working women. Moreover, the authors incorporate case histories and selections from their interviews, making this engaging reading."
—Teachers College Record
"…an important contribution to a growing area of research…this volume opens a creative and provocative dialogue on the subject of women and work."
Contents: N.L. Chester, H.Y. Grossman, Introduction: Learning About Women and Their Work Through Their Own Accounts. H.Y. Grossman, A.J. Stewart, Women's Experience of Power Over Others: Case Studies of Psychotherapists and Professors. V.E. O'Leary, J. Ickovics, Women Supporting Women: Secretaries and Their Bosses. H.Y. Grossman, The Pregnant Therapist: Professional and Personal Worlds Intertwine. N.L.Chester, Achievement Motivation and Employment Decisions: Portraits of Women With Young Children. J.B. James, Women's Employment Patterns and Midlife Well-Being. F.J. Crosby, Divorce and Work Life Among Women Managers. J. Richter, Crossing Boundaries Between Professional and Private Life. C.T. Gilkes, "Liberated to Work Like Dogs!": Labeling Black Women and Their Work. D. T. Schuster, Work, Relationships, and Balance in the Lives of Gifted Women. C. Tomlinson-Keasey, The Working Lives of Terman's Gifted Women. J.R. Schroedel, Blue-Collar Women: Paying the Price at Home on the Job. A.J. Stewart, Discovering the Meanings of Work.