This award provides funding to continue research on the conflicts and strains that working mothers with a preschool child experience in coping with the demands of work and family. profound changes in the labor force participation of mothers with young children are reflected in a current employment rate of 60% for mothers with a preschool child. The fact that the majority of mothers with preschool children must juggle the conflicting demands of work and family has generated concern about their well-being and that of their family. Over the past three years, extensive information has been collected at four time points on approximately 180 women in the early stages of parenting and a career. The study assessed (1) the stresses and conflicts they experience at work and at home, (2) how they are currently functioning as mothers, spouses and workers, and their mental health (3) characteristics of the women (e.g., personality), their work (e.g., job type), and their family situation (e.g., husband's support) that might influence their ability to deal with the multiple demands in their lives, and (4) their strategies for coping with these demands. Women were selected from two very different career settings: business managers, and college professors. Data on the women's functioning at work and at home were also outlined from their supervisors and husbands. Objective evidence of the women's functioning at work (e.g., salary, time until promotion, citation) was also obtained. Analysis of the information collected at the first assessment showed that women frequently experienced conflict between work and family demands. The most common way that these women dealt with demands on their time was to try to meet all of the demands. The data suggested that husbands were more satisfied than their wives with the wife's functioning as a marital partner, Overall, these women appear to set high performance standards for themselves at work and at home, increasing the likelihood that they will experience role conflict. The current research has two aims: First, to extend the initial analysis to test theory-based hypotheses about the causes of changes over time in role stress and conflict, and mental health and general functioning. Second, contact will be maintained with the women who participated in the study, so that it will be possible to recontact them in 5 years to assess the long term consequences of their efforts to deal with work and family demands during the early years of their career and parenting. This research program will make a significant contribution to understanding how working mothers with young children cope with the demand of combining work and family roles, and to the broader literature on stress and coping from which the theoretical framework is drawn.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Jean B. Intermaggio
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor
United States
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