Women have many roles. They are sisters, friends, daughters, mothers, and wives. And most women are employed in some capacity, with or without pay. Whether they work at home—raising children and running the house—or they enter the workforce as an employee, most women work. For young women, the transition from student to worker can be challenging. Equally difficult can be the reentry into the workforce for women who return to a job after having stayed home to raise children. How a woman approaches these transitions can affect not only her success in this pursuit, but also her self-esteem and well-being.
David Weiss of the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland looked at two specific factors in women’s work-related aspirations. First, he looked at how openness influenced the experience. Second, he gauged how women’s gender ideology affected outcome. Weiss conducted a study that followed 61 young women as they left high school and began careers. He then looked at more than 800 women’s transitions from school or parenthood to work. Weiss found that the women who were lower in openness embraced traditional female gender roles, while those with more openness embraced nontraditional gender roles.
Those women who were more open demonstrated high levels of self-efficacy and well-being. Women who were less open fared poorly when they tried to step out into nontraditional female roles. “Taken together, the present research suggests that endorsing an ideology that provides strong behavioral guidelines can help women low in openness to master the challenges of a developmental transition,” Weiss said. He added that for women who approach career choices with an open mind, working within the confines of traditional gender expectations can have negative effects on self-esteem, well-being, and overall work-related success.
Weiss, David, Alexandra M. Freund, and Bettina S. Wiese. Mastering developmental transitions in young and middle adulthood: The interplay of openness to experience and traditional gender ideology on women’s self-efficacy and subjective well-being. Developmental Psychology 48.6 (2012): 1774-784. Print.
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