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The Meaning of College in the Lives of American Women: The Past One-Hundred Years

  • Claudia Goldin

Today's college women express frustration over the reconciliation of careers as wives or paid workers. The issue is examined in the light of the historical experience of three cohorts of female college graduates in the U.S. The first, graduating 1900-1920, opted heavily for careers in a restricted set of occupations rather than marriage and motherhood. The second cohort, graduating 1940-1960, went to college in larger numbers, made it worthwhile by marrying college men with better income prospects and, like their less educated sisters, had numerous children and went to work only after motherhood and child rearing. The third cohort, graduating 1980 until recently, has had even better college participation and has sought careers based upon their college education. Many have stepped out of those careers into belated motherhood. Others have abandoned prospects of motherhood to continue their careers. Today's college women see no satisfaction in any of those life patterns.

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Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 899.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Oct 1993
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:899
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