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1. Social network development among low-income single mother-potential for bridging, bonding, and building
2. Fathers’ and mothers’ involvement in childcare and stimulation behaviors during free play with their infants
3. Career and family during college-educated women
Below is a general guideline you can use when dissecting a research article from an
academic journal. Article format and style may vary, but you should be able to locate all the
elements below.
1. Abstract – This is an abbreviated and general overview of what you will find in the article
including a) statement justifying the reason for the study, b) methodology used, c)
statement of hypothesis or expected findings, and d) results.
2. Introduction – This normally ranges from a few paragraphs to a full page, setting up what
the article will cover based on a brief overview of the issues and possibly a brief
overview of the methods.
3. Review of literature/Background section – In order to provide background information on
what we already know about a topic and justify the need for additional research, the
researcher begins by reviewing previous research or literature. Necessary terminology
and definitions, relationships among variables, and general findings in previous research
are laid out here. This provides a foundation on which to build the current research.
Part of reviewing the literature of previous research is to also to indicate where the gaps
or inconsistencies are so that others (e.g., you) may provide answers or corrections with
their follow up research. Note that this section of the article may not be called “Review of
Literature,” and may in fact be a number of sections, each with its own heading.
This section brings together a body of research that is related to, but not necessarily on
the exact same topic that you are examining. Important components of previous
research that are often addressed here are:
a) Timing – How old is previous research? Is it dated? Does it need to be studied
again in light of contemporary issues or conditions?
b) Variables – What variables have been considered in relation to one another on a
topic of research? Should other variables be considered?
c) Theoretical perspective – What theoretical perspectives have been used in the
past to interpret social phenomena? Would another perspective provide a
different or more useful interpretation? How would a “macro” or “micro”
perspective interpret the issue differently?
d) Methodology – How have previous studies collected and analyzed data? Are
these procedures methodologically sound? Have important strategies for data
collection or analysis and interpretation been overlooked? Have different sets of
data yielded different results?
e) Emergent research question(s) – Summary statement(s) of testable propositions
emerging from the authors’ literature review.
4. Theory – Sometimes there is a section explicitly labeled “theory” or something similar.
Sometimes this is included in the review of literature. Either way, you should be able to
glean some idea of what kind of perspective previous research has used to interpret
some phenomenon and how the current article follows or challenges such perspective.
5. Methods – An explanation of how data is gathered and analyzed. Not a very “sexy”
section of the research article, but necessary to explain to readers where the answers or
interpretations are coming from. This section should explain to the reader whether the
study is based quantitative or qualitative research methods, or both. Sometimes
researchers will gather their own data through surveys or interviews, sometimes they’ll
use an existing data set (such as General Social Survey). The source of the “raw data”
and methods used to analyze and interpret it should be made explicit here. This may be
an important component in determining how good or sound a piece of research really is.
Quantitative Methods – These methods tend to use statistical analyses to
examine trends and/or analyze numbers.
Qualitative Methods – These methods tend to focus on interviews with
people, observations, or some combination of both. A long term, in depth
qualitative project is often called an “ethnography.”
6. Results/Findings – Another sometimes dry portion of research article is where the results
from the data analyses are interpreted. Although this may be done largely through a
table, chart, or graph containing statistics, it must also be interpreted in plain English.
So a researcher discovers a statistically significant positive relationship between
education and income at the .05 level? What does it mean? The research should spell
out for you (and you should do the same in with your results) that an increase in
education is related to an increase in income level.
7. Conclusions/Discussion – Although the last part of the research article, perhaps the
most crucial as this is where we find out if the current research provides any important
information. This is where the researcher interprets more than the statistics. This is the
discussion of the overall meaning of the research. What do we learn from this? How
does it add to or challenge existing research? Are there suggestions for future studies to
increase knowledge on this or related topics? This is where the researcher’s voice
should most clearly be heard as they tell you what they found and why it is important.
8. Bibliography/Works Cited – An important and often overlooked section of the research
paper. Think of this as a legend to a map that directs readers to the research you have
reviewed or incorporated in your work. Should you happen to review an important point
made by another researcher, you need to provide explicit directions on how to find that
same article, book, or other source to the reader. Styles may differ, but all works cited
sections will contain: author(s) name, date of publication, title, source (journal, book,
etc.), precise publication location (publisher and geographic location in the case of a
book, journal volume, number, and page numbers for journal articles).
*From Erin Anderson, “Anatomy of a Research Article,” Teaching with a Sociological Lens.
Sex Roles (2013) 68:321–334
DOI 10.1007/s11199-012-0248-x
Balancing Act: Career and Family During College-Educated
Women’s 30s
Michele Hoffnung & Michelle A. Williams
Published online: 15 December 2012
# Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012
Abstract We assessed career, marriage, and motherhood
expectations of 118 White Women and 82 Women of Color
in 1993, when they were seniors at five northeastern U.S.
colleges. Sixteen years later, in 2009, 77.5 % responded to
our survey and answered questions about their career, marriage, motherhood, attitudes, and life satisfaction outcomes.
As seniors, they wanted it all, career, marriage, and motherhood. In 2009, nearly two thirds were employed full time,
91 % had married, nearly three quarters were mothers, and
about 57 % were combining full-time employment and motherhood. Comparisons are made among three role-status outcome groups: Have It All (mothers, employed full time);
Traditional (mothers, employed part time or not at all), and
Employed Only (childfree, employed full time). Educational
level of the women did not predict role status. Spouses’
educational level relative to the women’s predicted role status,
with Have It All women more likely to be married to less
educated spouses than Traditional or Employed Only women.
The role-status groups did not differ in their attitudes toward
women in general, but Have It All mothers had lower levels of
employment-related concerns about separation from their
children than Traditional mothers. Most of the women still
wanted to have it all. Many Traditional women looked
Portions of early data from this longitudinal study have been used in
previous reports over the years. This study has been supported by
grants to Michele Hoffnung by the Faculty Research Committee and
the College of Arts and Science Scholarship and Grants Committee of
Quinnipiac University. Thanks to Melissa Gibbons and Celeste Jorge
for able assistance keeping track of participants, coding, and entering
data over many years. Thanks, also, to the participants for sharing their
M. Hoffnung (*) : M. A. Williams
Quinnipiac University, CL-AC1, Hamden, CT 06518, USA
e-mail: michele.hoffnung@quinnipiac.edu
M. Hoffnung : M. A. Williams
Department of Psychology, Quinnipiac University,
Hamden, CT, USA
forward to returning to employment, and many of the
Employed Only women wanted to have children. Being a
mother was associated with higher life satisfaction than being
childfree. Results are discussed in terms of multiple-role theory and the positive influence of having family roles in the
Keywords Balancing career and family . Career . Marriage .
Motherhood . Life satisfaction . College-educated women .
Women college students in the U.S. say that they want it all
– career, marriage, and motherhood. In this regard, they do
not differ from college men. Both genders consider career to
be very important and both want other things in their lives as
well, including marriage and parenthood (Covin and Brush
1991; Friedman and Weissbrod 2005; Gerson 2010;
Hartung and Rogers 2000; Zhou 2006). This longitudinal
study set out to assess women’s desire for career and family
as college seniors and the outcomes 16 years later, when
participants were on average 38 years old. During the initial
interviews, these women said they wanted career, marriage,
and motherhood (Hoffnung 2004). In 2009 some combined
motherhood and full-time employment (Have It All), some
combined motherhood with reduced or no employment
(Traditional), and some were employed nonmothers
(Employed Only). This paper identifies characteristics of
these role-status groups and compares their attitudes and
life satisfaction. Although others have addressed these questions (e.g., Corrigall and Konrad 2007; Erchull et al. 2010),
this study follows the same women over 16 years to provide
a fuller picture of what the women wanted, as well as what
their choices have been. Because it is longitudinal, we are
able to compare attitudes and desires measured years before
the outcomes were reached. Expectations that they will have
career and family are high among college graduates in the
U.S. (e.g. Hoffnung 2004; Weer et al. 2006). The studies we
cite are from the U.S., which limits the scope of the work,
but is necessary to be applicable to our data.
Theoretical Framework
Based on the notion that psychological and emotional
resources have fixed limits, traditional role theorists assumed that multiple roles would lead to negative psychological consequences (Goode 1960). They theorized that the
demands and obligations of career and family roles would
compete; taxing the limits of time and energy and leading to
role overload, interrole conflict, and, consequently, stress.
This theoretical approach takes the role scarcity perspective
(Edwards and Rothbard 2000). Each set of role expectations
calls upon the same limited number of resources, which
results in reduced well being and increased stress.
But multiple roles can provide advantages. Based on the
contrasting notion that human energy is an expandable
resource, social support theorists conceptualized that engaging in multiple roles could increase the energy supply, and
thereby reduce strain (Sieber 1974). Because each role carries with it different privileges, resources, and avenues for
ego enhancement, a combination of roles increases social
capital and furnishes more opportunities for reward, security, satisfaction, and pleasure. Each additional role expands
personal resources: psychological (increased self-worth),
social support (more role partners), and relevant skills,
thereby enhancing psychological functioning. This approach takes what has been referred to as the expansionistenhancement perspective (Barnett and Hyde 2001; Marks
1977) or role accumulation perspective (Ruderman et al.
2002; Sieber 1974). Because resources gained in one arena
can be used in another, combining roles is beneficial. Salary
and benefits from employment can enhance caring for the
family. Management skills learned in the family can enhance employment. Self-esteem from either realm can increase effectiveness in the other.
Most research into the benefits and costs of multiple roles
has been done with higher-educated, career-oriented,
middle-class participants. Women in this group have been
shown to opt for full-time employment and benefit from the
multiple avenues for social, emotional, and financial support
(Pietromonaco et al. 1986). In their review of the multiple
role literature, Barnett and Hyde (2001) found ample evidence that both women and men are generally benefited by
multiple roles, in terms of psychological health, physical
health, and relationship quality. Adding employment is particularly beneficial for women and adding active involvement in the family is particularly beneficial to men (Barnett
et al. 1992).
Sex Roles (2013) 68:321–334
Some studies indicate that the nature and quality of the
roles are more important than the number of roles (Barnett
and Hyde 2001; Valcour 2007). Stress and strain result from
multiple roles, under certain conditions but not others. In a
study of teachers, Cooke and Rousseau (1984) found stress
resulted from multiple roles. They also found a positive
influence of family roles, when they were in the mix. The
presence of a spouse and children was associated with
physical well-being. Parents experienced strain symptoms
less frequently than nonparents and married teachers less
frequently than those who were unmarried. Their findings
are counter to the predictions of the role scarcity perspective
and suggest that family roles provide substantial benefits,
which is congruent with the historical view that in the late
twentieth century women and men looked to their private
lives to find happiness and buffer them from the impersonal
work roles (May 1997). Rearing children is a role that
enriches life, at the same time it serves to limit women’s
careers. In a study of women academics, Aisenberg and
Harrington (1988) found that being able to integrate multiple roles was predicated on having available financial and/or
human resources. In order to succeed, the women they
interviewed needed to be able to hire household and childcare assistance and/or count on husbands or grandparents to
do a share of the family work.
Barnett and Hyde (2001) identified several processes that
contribute to the beneficial effects of multiple roles: buffering, added income, social support, added opportunities to
experience success, and similarity of experiences of partners. They conclude that multiple roles are generally beneficial, at least for middle-class, White, American couples,
and that gender differences in these benefits are generally
small. This leads to our prediction that Have It All women
will have higher life satisfaction than women in the other
role-status groups.
Combining Career and Family
Although combining career and family has been typical for
men, it has not always been possible for women. Goldin
(1997, 2004) tracked the changes in labor force participation
of college-educated women during the course of the 20th
century. Although women often combined career and family
in their lifetimes, estimates of women who graduated between 1946 and 1965, and remained in the workforce when
they had young children, range from 13 to 28 % (Ferber and
Green 2003; Goldin 2004).
The second wave women’s movement had a significant
impact on women’s occupational aspirations. Shu and
Marini (1998) found that the range, prestige, and earning
potential of occupations to which educated young women
(18–22) aspired in the late 1970s were significantly higher
than those of similar women in the late 1960s, when
Sex Roles (2013) 68:321–334
educated women aspired to teaching, nursing, and other
family-friendly predominantly female occupations with
low mean annual wages. Changing aspirations are associated with changing attitudes. Murrell et al. (1991) found that
women choosing nontraditional careers saw less conflict
between combining career and family and held less traditional attitudes toward gender roles than those choosing
traditional occupations. Since 1979, contemporary adolescent girls have been aspiring to nontraditional, high status
careers, such as law and medicine, in similar numbers to
adolescent boys (Shu and Marini 1998).
College seniors express great expectations for their
careers and relatively little concern for how marriage and
family will interact with their careers in the future. Although
they anticipate egalitarian marriages, that in itself does not
resolve the conflicts of career and family (Deutsch et al.
2007). Even those who anticipate conflict between work and
family roles do not restrict the importance they give to
developing their careers (Weer et al. 2006). However, since
college is a place where the focus is on choosing majors and
preparing for careers, the answers college women give may
be skewed by the context toward emphasizing career
In interviews with a socioeconomically diverse sample
of young women and men, Gerson (2010) found that the
vast majority wanted the best of both career and family
involvement. They desired partnerships with gender-role
flexibility, regardless of whether their parents’ relationships were traditional or not. At the same time, they sensed
that achieving work and family balance would not be easy.
Men were more willing to accept the fallback position of a
traditional division of labor than women, whereas women
emphasized paid work as essential for their personal autonomy. Having witnessed the costs to their mothers of emotional
or financial dependence, they emphasized that working was
essential to being able to provide for themselves and their
Women are attending graduate and professional schools
in record numbers in preparation for careers of all types
(Knapp et al. 2007). In addition, family size has decreased
(Livingston and Cohn 2010b). These converging trends of
higher educational attainment and smaller families, result in
wives contributing more substantially to family income
(Raley et al. 2006). Wives with at least a college education
were more likely to be in dual-earner couples than those
without. Women who were better educated than their
spouses were more likely to be the higher earner in
the couple and, therefore, their employment was more
likely to be valued and depended upon (Raley et al.
2006). This leads to our prediction that women with
partners less educated than themselves will more likely
continue full-time employment (Have It All) than be
More than 90 % of Americans marry, and collegeeducated women are no exception (Cherlin 2009).
National statistics indicate marriage rates for collegeeducated women of 84 % for ages 35–39, and of 91 % for
ages 55–59, in 2008 (Fry 2010). Although marriage does
not significantly affect the employment effort or involvement of professional women; motherhood does have an
impact (Betz 1993; Lips and Lawson 2009; Roskies and
Carrier 1994). Women with children are less likely to work
than those without; and mothers that do work are likely to
work fewer hours than nonmothers (Kaufman and
Uhlenberg 2000). During the 2000s, average age of marriage for college educated women was 28 (Fry 2010). Early
marriage is associated with early childbearing, and early
childbearing is likely to interfere with college women’s
career plans (Katchadourian and Boli 1994; Spain and
Bianchi 1996). This leads to our prediction that women
who are working part-time or not at all (Traditional) will
be more likely to have married younger than those who are
full-time employed.
Particular career paths may influence marriage and motherhood outcomes for women. In a 13-year study of MBAs,
Reitman and Schneer (2003) found that, among respondents
who were full-time employed by companies, only 55 % of
women were married as compared to 86 % of the men and
only 61 % of the women had children as compared to 92 %
of the men. Even though fewer women had competing
family responsibilities, more men (35 %) were in top management than women (15 %). Similar findings have been
reported among executives (Blair-Loy 2003).
Educational level also has an impact on motherhood and
employment. Women with graduate and professional
degrees are among the most likely never to have children,
although their rate of childlessness has been rapidly declining, from 31 % in 1994 to 24 % in 2008 (Livingston and
Cohn 2010a). Those with higher educational status are also
more likely to have smaller families and to continue fulltime employment than those with less educational status
(Dye 2010). This leads to our prediction that women who
are full-time employed will have a higher educational level
than those who are not.
Attitudes about gender have an impact on multiple roles as
well. A traditional perspective assigns men the role of good
provider and women the role of nurturer, whereas an egalitarian perspective assigns women and men shared responsibility for providing family income and nurturing.
Egalitarian values encourage mothers to maintain their
careers while their children are young. Because egalitarian
fathers are also involved with childcare, mothers do not feel
total responsibility for parenting. Fathers with egalitarian
attitudes take longer parental leaves and decrease their hours
at work when children enter the family, in contrast to traditional fathers who increase their hours at work (Hyde et al.
1993; Kaufman and Uhlenberg 2000).
Gender-role ideology moderates the effect of multiple
roles (Barnett and Hyde 2001). Employment is beneficial
to married women, especially if they hold positive attitudes
toward being employed. Jacob (2008) found that women
whose actual employment situation (full time; part time; self
employed; not at all) matched their preferred situation were
more likely to feel appreciated; more confident; more content; and less likely to have felt isolated, burdened, or
depressed. For women, having their preferred employment
situation improves their physical and emotional well being
(Jacob 2008; Repetti et al. 1989). Women and men with less
traditional ideas about gender roles benefit more from multiple roles. This leads to our prediction that Have It All
Women will have more feminist attitudes than Traditional
or Employed Only women.
Although parenthood is highly valued in the lives of
mothers and fathers, attitudes differ as to what care is best
for children. Deutsch et al. (2007) found that egalitarian
undergraduate women who believed that children’s need
should come first and who rejected daycare were similar in
parenting attitudes to traditional women who planned to stay
home with their children, because they believed that mother
or parent care was necessary for the children’s welfare. This
leads to our prediction that mother who Have It All will
have lower maternal anxiety about separation from their
children than Traditional mothers.
The difficult research question is how to measure women’s attitudes toward work and home. One can hold nontraditional attitudes toward gender roles in general and still
maintain traditional parenting attitudes, namely that being
home with one’s own children is the better way to parent.
Different researchers have used different measures of these
attitudes; there is no standard (Kan 2007).
To further complicate the measurement of attitudes,
longitudinal studies indicate that traditional college-aged
women’s expectations for family and employment are
unrealistic. Granrose and Kaplan (1996) found that
10 years after college graduation, the women they had
interviewed as students were far less likely to be mothers than they had expected to be. In addition, far fewer
who were mothers had returned to their careers within
3 years of the birth of their first child, than had
expected. Interviewed again 25 years after graduation,
the women who maintained full-time employment had
married later, had children later, and had fewer children
than women who were employed part time or not at all.
Those choosing the more traditional patterns were more
likely to believe that children needed them to be at home
(Granrose 2010).
Sex Roles (2013) 68:321–334
This Study
This study followed young women for 16 years, from the
time they were seniors in college in 1993, until 2009 when
they were on average 38 years old. The general purpose was
to increase understanding of college-educated women’s career and family choices, by assessing both their desires and
their outcomes.
This paper compares three outcome groups, based upon
the participant’s family and career role-status in 2009: 1Women with children who were employed full time (Have It
All group); 2- Women with children who were employed
part time or not at all (Traditional group); and 3- Women
employed full time who were childfree (Employed Only
This paper specifically addresses the following hypotheses:
1- Women who are full-time employed (Have It All or
Employed Only) will have a higher educational level
than Traditional women.
2- Women who Have it All will be more likely to have
spouses who were less educated than themselves than
Traditional women.
3- Women who Have It All will have more feminist attitudes toward women (as measured by the Attitudes
Toward Women Scale) than Traditional or Employed
Only women.
4- Traditional women will have been more likely to marry
at a younger age than women in the other groups.
5- Life satisfaction, as measured by the Satisfaction
with Life Scale (SWLS), will be higher for Having
It All group than for Traditional or Employed Only
6- Women who Have It All will have lower maternal
anxiety about mother-child separation for employment,
as measured by Maternal Separation Anxiety Scale 3
(MSAS3), than Traditional women.
In 1992–1993, 25 White women and 25 Women of Color
were selected by a stratified random process from the senior
class list at each of five New England colleges and universities (Hoffnung 2004). (In one college, there were not 25
Women of Color in the senior class, so additional White
women were selected.) The women were telephoned and
invited to participate. The first 20 in each category to be
reached and scheduled for in-person interviews served as
participants; this yielded 40 women from each college: 118
non-Hispanic White women and 82 Women of Color (25
Sex Roles (2013) 68:321–334
African Americans, 19 Latinas, 37 Asian Americans, and 1
Native American). An annual survey was conducted by mail
or phone interview every year, from 1994 to 2009. The
annual survey always included questions about occupation,
education, relationship status, and children.
The percentage of women reporting same-sex partners
only or sometimes changed over the years of the study, with
a high of 9.5 % in 1996 to a low of 2.3 % in 2009. This
variation is in part because not everyone responded each
year and in part because some of the women changed their
behavior, which is consistent with Golden’s (1996) findings
that college women’s sexual identity is fluid and can change
over the life course.
In 2009, 155 (77.5 %) of the original sample responded.
This represents a very high retention rate. Following the 200
participants from the end of college to the threshold of middle
adulthood was a challenge, because they moved often in the
period when they were establishing careers and families and
frequently changed their names when they married (Hoffnung
2006). Even with great effort to stay in annual contact, some
participants were lost. We know one died early. As with any
longitudinal study, we do not know whether and in what ways
those lost were different from the women who participated in
the final survey. We do know that chi square analysis indicated
no significant difference between respondents and nonrespondents in status of school (78.8 % of low status and
76.7 % of high status college graduates responded in 2009),
or in race/ethnicity; (80.5 % of White and 73.2 % of Women
of Color responded in 2009). These 2009 respondents are the
participants in this study.
The colleges coded the students according to five racial/
ethnic categories: White; African American; Hispanic;
Asian American; American Indian. Because there were too
few participants in each of the four latter categories to make
statistical comparisons, the data were recoded to White or
Women of Color.
prestigious and draw students within their region rather than
from across the nation. Status of college serves as a composite measure of socio-economic status (Hoffnung 2004).
Demographic frequencies by college are presented in
Table 1.
Employment Status
The indicator of employment status was the question, “If
you work for pay, do you work: ____ full-time, ____ parttime, ____ other (please describe). How many hours a week
do you work for pay?” Full-time students were considered
full-time employed. Women who had reduced their work
hours temporarily, but continued in their career job with full
benefits, were considered full-time. Those who marked fulltime (M043.51, SD08.96, range030–80) reported on average more than twice as many hours of employment than
those who marked part-time (M019.47, SD06.97, range0
6–32), although there was slight overlap which is the result
of one full-time employee temporarily allowed to work 6 hr
a day, 5 days a week.
Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS)
The 25-item version of the AWS (Spence et al. 1973) was
administered immediately after the initial interview to assess
gender-role attitudes in general. Each item was accompanied
by a 4-point Likert-type scale whose extremes are agree
strongly and disagree strongly. Approximately half of the
items present an egalitarian point of view (e.g., “It is insulting for women to have the ‘obey’ clause remain in the
marriage service”), and the remainder presents a traditional
point of view (e.g., “Sons in the family should be given
more encouragement to go to college than daughters”). The
egalitarian items were reverse-scored. The item scores,
which range from 0 to 3, were summed to obtain a total
score for each respondent. There were no missing values.
The possible range of scores is 0–75; the lower the score, the
more traditional the attitudes; the higher the score, the more
profeminist the attitudes. Spence and Hahn (1997) report
satisfactory test-retest reliability. The alpha coefficient
among this sample was .80.
Status of College
Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)
The colleges the women attended were grouped according
to their selectivity and prestige. Of the five colleges, three
(Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Yale
University) were ranked as Tier 1 highly selective and
prestigious national institutions (high status), and two
(Quinnipiac University and University of Massachusetts)
were regional or lower tier institutions (low status) (U.S.
News.com 2003). The Regional institutions were grouped
together because, although very good colleges, they are less
The 5-item SWLS developed by Diener et al. (1985) was
included as part of the 2005 survey. Each item was accompanied by a 7-point Likert-type scale whose extremes were
10strongly disagree to 70strongly agree. Possible range of
scores on the scale is from 5 (low satisfaction) to 35 (high
satisfaction). Missing values were marked as 40neutral.
The scale was developed to measure global life satisfaction
and includes items such as, “In most ways my life is close to
Sex Roles (2013) 68:321–334
Table 1 Demographic frequencies by college in 2009
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