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Susan Lane Shome

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The Influence of Feminist Mothers on Their Adolescent Daughters' Career Aspirations

Date of defense:
May 8, 1997

Document Type:
PhD Dissertation

Doctor of Philosophy

Vocational and Technical Education


The purpose of this study was to examine (a) the ways in which employed feminist mothers of adolescent daughters share information about the world of work, and (b) how daughters are influenced by the communication they have with their mothers about careers. The research was conducted in a series of qualitative interviews with eight mother-daughter dyads and two mother-daughter triads. The mothers and adolescent daughters lived in one of two communities in the Southeastern United States. Mothers and daughters were interviewed together and separately. In the process of analyzing data from the interviews, 30 themes emerged. The themes in the category of "Mothersą Attitudes" were: 1) earlier career goals, 2) barriers to occupations, 3) sex discrimination at work, 4) sexual harassment, 5) positive professional experiences, 6) balancing work and family, 7) expectations of others, 8) something to fall back on, 9) division of labor at home, 10) influencing daughtersą choices, 11) assessment of daughtersą strengths and struggles, 12) workplace challenges daughters may face, 13) definitions of feminism, 14) comfort level with feminist label, 15) developing a feminist consciousness, and 16) feminism and child rearing. "Daughtersą Attitudes" were coded: 1) dream job, 2) roads not to be taken, 3) career goals and objectives, 4)attitudes toward subjects in school, 5) influence of teachers and others 6) perceptions of mothersą expectations, 7) perceptions of mothersą work life, 8) career awareness and exploration, 9) fifteen years from now, 10) projected division of labor at home, 11) definitions of feminism, and 12) comfort level with feminist label. "Mother-Daughter Interaction" yielded two themes: 1) frequency and location of communication, and 2) advice and support for daughtersą career choices. Recommendations for action included (a)that school personnel recognize mothersą contributions to career development, and (b) that schools and parents work together on eradicating sexism in schools. Some suggestions for areas for future research were (a) math teaching strategies, (b) parents and daughters in extra-curricular activities, (c) mothers in nontraditional careers, and (d) mothers and daughters in different cultures.

career development, mothers and daughters

In a year

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Archiving fee received.
UMI fee received/NA.

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