EFFECTS OF MATERNAL EMPLOYMENT, INTRAFAMILIAL REINFORCEMENT FOR WOMEN ACHIEVING, AND AUTONOMY ON DAUGHTERS' ACHIEVEMENT AND ACHIEVEMENT NEED

JERELYN JOY BROFMAN, Fordham University

Abstract

Despite an enormous increase in the labor force participation of women and mothers over the last two decades, there remains a disparity between the representation of women in the labor force and their proportionate representation in professional and upper echelon managerial positions. This disparity has often been related to the acceptance by many women of an unstated restrictive norm that females are to be wives and mothers, but are not to achieve outside the home. The underrepresentation of women in high echelon positions has prompted researcher interest in the conditions which influence the adoption of this norm and the development of the need to achieve in women.^ Utilizing social learning theory to predict the effects of maternal employment on daughters, the present investigation attempted to examine the relationship of maternal employment and several variables related to mother's employment to the development of girls' achievement need and academic performance. To more fully elaborate on the family constellation as it relates to mother's employment status, the intrafamilial variables of maternal attitude toward her employment status (maternal satisfaction with role) and paternal attitude toward women working and achieving were incorporated into the study as independent variables, as were mother's reason for working or not working and the child's level of autonomy.^ Subjects were 102 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade females attending either a school for the gifted or regular independent schools in Manhattan. Almost all subjects were Caucasian and came from intact, middle, upper-middle, and upper socioeconomic level families. Only children whose mothers had been working for 12 months or longer prior to data collection were included in this study.^ Achievement need and autonomy level were measured by the need for achievement and autonomy scales of the Personality Research Form (Jackson, 1974). Academic achievement in reading and mathematics was measured by teacher grades (ranging from a possible 1 to 100) at the school for the gifted and by percentile achievement according to norms of the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) tests administered by the two independent schools. Since measures of achievement at the school for the gifted and the two independent schools were not equivalent, separate analyses were performed for the two groups. The child's perception of maternal attitude toward her employment status and paternal attitude toward women working and achieving were measured by two sections of Lighter's (1980) Adolescent Intrafamilial Perception Questionnaire (AIPQ) which were revised for use with younger children.^ Findings reaffirm the importance of attitudinal factors since the most significant finding was that maternal attitude toward her employment status was the most potent variable in terms of both significance and meaningfulness in predicting girls' need to achieve and academic performance. Although daughters of employed mothers were, in general, higher in achievement need and performance, maternal employment status was not nearly as potent a predictor of the criterion variables as was maternal satisfaction with role. Maternal employment failed to significantly predict all girls' achievement need, and was a significant predictor of academic performance only in the analysis of independent school girsl' math. Although mother's working appears to have a positive effect on girls' achievement need and performance, other variables related to mother's employment must be taken into account.^ The failure of maternal employment status to meaningfully predict the criterion variables may be due in part to the characteristics of this sample. It is suggested that further research be undertaken with populations where children or nonworking mothers are more equally represented, where it is possible to obtain equivalent measures of academic performance and where larger numbers of subjects are available. ^

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

BROFMAN, JERELYN JOY, "EFFECTS OF MATERNAL EMPLOYMENT, INTRAFAMILIAL REINFORCEMENT FOR WOMEN ACHIEVING, AND AUTONOMY ON DAUGHTERS' ACHIEVEMENT AND ACHIEVEMENT NEED" (1980). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8109060.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8109060

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