As part of one of my research projects in grad school, I am conducting focus groups with mothers who have professional careers on the experiences, rewards, and satisfactions of being a working mom in "The Changing Landscape of Women in America." I am knee-deep in the data analysis phase and it's an interesting process.
I came across this article in my work. The author references a book from 1952 called "The Many Lives of Modern Woman" by Gruenberg & Krech. I was struck by how some of the points about women raised in 1952 mirror the points being raised by the women in my focus groups:
Gruenberg and Krech raise a chapter about husbands and their role in the family. The luck of the draw in choices of a spouse and the long day to day discussions and negotiations about working or not working, staying home totally or part-time, having some household help, all are issues for the young married woman. But as couples come from different traditions, ethnic backgrounds, and religions these are not simple issues. Some couples are lucky, some work hard at these different perspectives, and some find both luck and successful negotiations.
Late in their book, almost in response to the above illustration and commentary, Gruenberg and Krech raise three major sources of problems of the modern woman. These are: isolation; the mechanisms / logistics of living; and the submergence of interests, talents, and ambitions from their earlier years. In contrast to earlier generations, many modern women are isolated from extended family and the social life and help that that brings to daily living. The isolation is compounded with the variety of modern appliances and ‘labor saving’ devices that suggest that the modern woman can do things quicker by herself, without needing help from friends and relations. Perhaps most significant is the combination of these two aspects with the submergence of talent and interests and hopes that often never recover in the life of the ‘modern woman.’ Gruenberg and Krech’s are quite clear that these interests and talents need not be earth shaking nor at some national or international level of competence. Rather they are the items that bring personal satisfaction and often companionship with other young women."
Given the similarities in the writing from 1952 and what I am hearing women talk about today, I find myself asking the question - Is the landscape really changing for women in America or are the issues the same but with modern labels?
I would love to hear what you think!