A "major career woman"? How women develop early expectations about work

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Using data from 80 in-depth qualitative interviews with women randomly sampled from New York City, I ask: how do women develop expectations about their future workforce participation? Using an intersectional approach, I find that women's expectations about workforce participation stem from gendered, classed, and raced ideas of who works full-time. Socioeconomic status, race, gender, and sexuality influenced early expectations about work and the process through which these expectations developed. Women from white and Latino working-class families were evenly divided in their expectations about their future workforce participation, while the vast majority of white, Asian, African American, and Latina middle-class women expected to work continually as adults. Unlike their working-class white and Hispanic peers, all of the working-class Black respondents developed expectations that they would work continuously as adults. The intersections of race, class, and gender play a central role in shaping women's expectations about their participation in paid work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-430
Number of pages22
JournalGender and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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