Career Aspirations of Women in the 20th Century
Desirae M. Domenico
Kennesaw Mountain High School
Karen H. Jones
The University of Georgia
Women have increasingly become more involved in the workforce following World War II. Paid employment of women has shifted from primarily traditional female-oriented jobs to more non-traditional, and previously male-oriented careers. Women’s participation in the workforce has lead to the study of career aspirations of women. Career aspirations are influenced by factors such as gender, socioeconomic status, race, parents’ occupation and education level, and parental expectations. This review of literature presents an overview of women’s participation in the workforce and the progress of women’s career development and career aspirations in the latter half of the 20th century.
At various times throughout history, working women were viewed as immoral and unfeminine objects of pity. Some critics accused working women of being negligent mothers. Frequently, women employees were not taken seriously by their bosses, colleagues, or society (Nieva & Gutek, 1981). Having a career posed challenges for women due to their family responsibilities (Valdez & Gutek, 1987). Women were expected to perform duties as wife and mother, in addition to fulfilling their professional responsibilities. Some women experienced feelings of guilt or selfishness if they put their career interests first (Heins, Hendricks, & Martindale, 1982). Because women’s work and family demands were simultaneous, these demands had a significant impact on women’s careers (Valdez, & Gutek). As stated by Heins et al., “Achieving professional status may be more difficult for women than for men” (p. 455). Despite their increasing numbers, women have tended to enter the workforce in lower-status, lower-paying jobs, and remain clustered in a limited number of conventional careers (Tinklin, Croxford, Ducklin, & Frame, 2005). Low-paying...