Present, early-adult transitional expectations, goals, and decisions of a group of young women

Patricia O'Brien Macchia, Fordham University


The present study examined if and how Dreams of young women reflected changing role expectations and their implications. Specifically, marriage and family role expectations and level and type of occupational commitment were examined in addition to the presence or absence of an understanding of the realities of dual roles and of working couples. Forty Caucasian young women between the ages of 18 and 24 years were interviewed and completed the Attitude Toward Women Scale, the Attitudes Toward Working Mothers Scale, the Career Orientation Scale, and the Gender Related Activities Survey. Interviews were content analyzed to determine the Dream's central and peripheral components. Also examined were the expected commitment to the components, the Dream's effect on decisions and choices, and the presence or absence of long-range planning. In addition, the survey data were analyzed descriptively and statistically, and were compared and contrasted with the interview data. Thirty-eight of the 40 Dreams reflected the changing role expectations for women, but the majority of these demonstrated a lack of understanding concerning the conflicts of dual roles and of working couples. The Dreams also revealed three other recurring themes: (a) inadequate career planning; (b) expectations of an interrupted occupational pattern and a lack of understanding of its effects; and (c) an image of motherhood as the ultimate, fulfilling role. The results of the surveys supported the findings of the interview analyses. Inadequately planned life structures as suggested by the Dream descriptions in this study, especially those which will cause role conflict or overload, can result in psychological symptoms, inappropriate occupational choices, and marital difficulties. They can also impact on society in general by affecting marriage and family patterns and the nature of occupational involvement. Counselors can help women avoid or minimize these situations by assisting them to plan roles more effectively to anticipate and alleviate potential stress points. Women need assurance that dual roles are possible and can be associated with a sense of increased well-being. However, they also must realize that haphazard planning and unrealistic expectations will probably result in dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Macchia, Patricia O'Brien, "Present, early-adult transitional expectations, goals, and decisions of a group of young women" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8918451.