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Never married childless women Borycki, Barbara C. 1992

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NEVER MARRIED CHILDLESS WOMENbyBARBARA C. BORYCKIB.A., Simon Fraser University, 1990THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESCounselling PsychologyWE ACCEPT THIS THESIS AS CONFORMINGTO^REQUIRE TANDARDTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember, 1992© BARBARA C. BORYCKI, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature) Department of ..44044/ZZg--(4./zi "ITGAO COlyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, Canada-5-,7ae• -21_) /ff.z.DateDE-6 (2/88)AbstractA qualitative phenomenological paradigm was utilized to explorethe personal development, career and relational experiences ofnever-married childless working women in mid-life, whoregarded themselves as satisfied. Seven never-married womenbetween the ages of 39 and 60 participated in this study. Duringindividual, in-depth personal interviews which were audio-taped,the women described their perceptions and experiences as never-married childless women. Five common themes were extrapolatedfrom the data using a thematic analysis procedure devised byColaizzi (1978). The themes described the women's experiencesof feeling different, the importance of relationships, theawareness of being fundamentally alone, the desire for self-reliance and the developmental influence of family role models.IITABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract^ i iAcknowledgements^ VCHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION^ 1CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE^9Research on Women's Development^ 10Research on Women's Career Theory 25Research on Never-Married Women^ 31CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY 4 7Design^ 47Selection of Participants^ 49Data Collection^ 52Data Analysis 55Limitations of the Study^ 57CHAPTER IV: RESULTS 5 8The Women's Stories^ 58Eva's Life Narrative 58Joan's Life Narrative^ 60Linda's Life Narrative 62Judy's Life Narrative^ 64Lorraine's Life Narrative 67Ambika's Life Narrative^ 69Margaret's Life Narrative 71'IVCommon Themes^ 73The Experience of Self as Different^74The Experience of Connectedness 78The Experience of Fundamental Aloneness^82The Experience of Influential Family Role Models 85The Experience of Self Reliance^ 90Summary^ 93CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION^ 9 5Profile of the Never-Married Woman^ 95Discussion of the Findings^ 99The Relational Sense of Self^ 100The Need for Self Reliance 102The Mother/Daughter Relationship^106Coming to Terms with being Different 108Implications for Future Research^ 113Implications for Counselling 116REFERENCES^ 1 2 0APPENDICES 1 2 7Appendix A: Recruitment Notice - Bulletin^127Appendix B: Recruitment Notice - Advertisement^128Appendix C: Consent Form^ 129Appendix D: Orienting Statements ^131Appendix E: Sample Questions 133vAcknowledgementsI would like to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to thefollowing people whose support and assistance was instrumentalin the completion of this thesis:My committee members Dr. Judith Lynam and Dr. RichardYoung whose insightfulness and positive critiques have improvedthe quality of this research.My advisor Dr. Judith Daniluk whose knowledge andexpertise provided the essential guiding force behind this work.An inspiring professional role model Judith's support andencouragement greatly strengthened my ability to accomplishthis task.My special women friends Erin, Shiobhan, Ricki and Brendawhose support, encouragement and constancy have given me theconfidence to accomplish my goals.And to Charles whose personal caring, editing talents andculinary expertise sustained me not only throughout the creationof this thesis but through the duration of my academic program.Finally, to the generous and remarkable women who sharedtheir lives with me, I am most grateful. It is your story I have setout to tell. I hope this paper sensitively reveals your lives.CHAPTER 1INTRODUCTIONNorth American culture with it's patriarchal andmarriage/family-centered ideology leads society to regard thenever-married, childless woman as an anomaly. The victim ofunflattering images, she is commonly regarded as the "old maid"and the "spinster" - "the dowdy lady who wears sensible shoesand puts the cat out every night, the pitiable creature who wasnot invited to life's banquet" (Baruch, Barnett & Rivers, 1985, p.255). Her history as "spinster" has been etched into our languageand our literature since the fourteenth century, and is still usedin law today to identify any adult woman who has never married(Simon, 1987).Traditional established theory (e.g. Holland, 1949)maintains that women cannot achieve personal fulfillment otherthan through the attainment of relationship (i.e., marriage) andnurturing roles (i.e., bearing children). Perspectives of this kindcontinue to profoundly influence the perceptions of both theprofessional and lay person regarding never-married, childlesswomen. Hinkle's (cited in Adams, 1976) statement made over 40years ago, reflects this persistent and predominant point-of-view:. . in spite of freedom from social pressures and the manyavenues open to women for interesting work and financial1independence, it remains true that the innate desire forhome, with husband and children, continues to be thestrongest and deepest longing for all normal women (p. 80).Dominant social norms uphold the belief that women notoccupying the customary roles of wife and mother, are expectedto have "identity" problems, lower self-esteem and to be lesshappy than more traditionally oriented women (Baruch, et al.,1985). The assumption is that unmarried, childless women aremarital rejects that just never got asked, the products ofpathological families, or the victims of some emotional orphysical handicap. From this perspective, psychological ill-adjustment is the least a woman might expect should she notmarry and/or should she choose to forego having children(Verhoff, Douvan, & Kulka, 1981).Although the classic negative image of the never-married,childless woman remains surprisingly pervasive in everyday life,unprecedented numbers of women in Canada and the United Statesare today delaying marriage until their mid and late thirties, andothers are choosing to forego marriage and children entirely. Manydemographers predict that the percentage of North Americanwomen now between the ages of twenty and forty-five who willremain single throughout their lives will far exceed the rates ofnever-married women recorded at any time during the pastcentury (Simon, 1987). Changing patterns and projections seem to2suggest that for many women the never-married status is rapidlybecoming a viable lifestyle alternative.Higher percentages of women may be remaining single todayfor a number of reasons including women's increased labourmarket participation which has produced a higher proportion offinancially independent women. Additionally, involvement insexual intimacy without marriage has gained greater acceptancewith the availability of contraception and abortion. The culturalimpacts of feminism and the gay rights movement have also madethe single life more acceptable, increasing choices and thepotential for life meaning (Simon, 1987).Although marriage continues to be a popular institution - 90percent of all adults will marry at least once in their lifetime(Campbell, 1981) - many women seeking marriage will encountera scarcity of marriageable men in their thirties and forties(Richardson, 1985). The lack of availability of suitable male agemates is thought to be particularly severe for women who havedeferred marriage to pursue education and careers. Whereas menwith the highest occupational achievements are least likely toremain single, women of the same occupational status are mostlikely to remain single (Spreitzer & Riley, 1974). While "thecultural pattern is for men to choose women who are not theirequals" (Greer, cited in Simon, 1987, p. 5), educated women tendto prefer men with equivalent or superior education as mates,thereby narrowing further the number of suitable males for3marriage. Consequently, while some women will deliberatelychoose to forego traditional female roles, others will remainunmarried and childless because a desirable mate could not befound.In spite of the increasing numbers of never-married womenin North America, relatively little is known regarding the lifestructures and personal development of these women. Interest infemale development has only recently become the focal point ofpsychological research. "Human development has been conceivedin terms of male development, with female development eitherignored, treated as an afterthought, or forced into parallel linesof reasoning (Josselson, 1987, p. 4). Consequently, studies ofhuman development and career have tended to emphasize women's"deficiencies" and identified the ways in which women deviatefrom the established male standards (Gallos, 1989; Josselson,1987; Rossi, 1980). Furthermore, historically women'sexperiences have been translated for them, primarily by maleinvestigators whose studies have selected exclusively orpredominantly from all male samples (Belenky, Clinchy,Goldberger & Tarule, 1986). As a result, women's "voices" havebeen virtually silent or missing during the conceptualization oftheory, which has come to represent them through generalization.Only recently have women theorists begun to examine thelife structures and development of women. To the present time,however, even these limited research studies have tended to4focus on women who have assumed the traditional female liferoles of marriage and motherhood, as emphasized by Baruch andher colleagues (1985) -Studies have tended to focus on one type of woman -married women with children - simply because they are thelargest group. Too often it is assumed that what is true forthese women is true of all women. As a result, there aremany women that behavioral scientists are just starting tolearn about - the never-married woman, for example (p. 16).Research on never-married women has infrequently beenundertaken and, for the most part, has been incorporated intomore broadly based studies addressing singlehood andabnormality. In these studies single individuals have generallybeen regarded as deviant (Stein, 1981) and pathological (Bernard,1972). In comparison to their married cohorts single men andwomen have been found less likely to enjoy psychological andphysical well-being and have been consistently reported as beingless happy with their lives than their married cohorts (Bradburn,1969). Studies focused on single women describe them as lesshappy than married women (Bernard, 1972) and more likely to beanxious, depressed and less satisfied with their lives (Campbell,Converse & Rogers, 1976; Ward, 1979). More recent researchfindings have begun to suggest however, that the old stereotypesof never-married women may no longer apply. These studies haverevealed that never-married women, particularly those who are5employed, may actually see themselves as competent and valuedhuman beings, and regard themselves as satisfied with their lives(Baruch, et al., 1985; Gigy, 1980). Researchers suggest that suchlife-satisfaction for singles may be related to a woman's abilityto reconcile her single life style in the midst of unflatteringsocial stereotypes (Adams, 1976; Bernard, 1972).Never-the-less, to the present time few research studieshave examined how never-married childless women constructtheir lives and none have examined the lives of never-marriedwomen who identify themselves as satisfied. With more womenremaining single and childless, there is an increasing need toexamine the experiences of never-married women and to includethem more deliberately in the formulation of theories of women'scareer and of women's normative development. Alternative lifestructures need to be examined if they are to be understood andsupported as acceptable and perhaps desirable life choices forwomen (and men). Understanding of this kind may lead to greatersocietal acceptance, the presentation of new positive rolemodels, and the creation of strategies for satisfaction andsuccess among this group of women.In this thesis the researcher has endeavored to examine thepersonal development, work and relational experiences of never-married, childless women in mid-life. The researcher wasinterested in how women aged 39 to 60 who regarded themselvesas satisfied with their lives, created meaning out of a life6structure that is so different from that of most other women.Women presently aged 39 to 60 years were believed to representa cohort which was raised at a time when traditional roles forwomen were still the norm. Consequently, these women werethought to provide a particular historical context in which theirdecisions to remain single and childless might be betterunderstood.The research study invited never-married, childless womento "tell their life stories", and to contribute their voices,experiences and perspectives to the growing body of research onwomen's life and career development. The research questiondesigned to guide this inquiry asked: How do never-marriedchildless working women in mid-life, who perceive themselves asbeing satisfied with their lives, experience their career progress,personal development and relationships with others?The ultimate aim of this inquiry was to explore how never-married childless women create meaningful life structuresthereby providing descriptions which might sensitize otherresearchers and practitioners to the experiences of these women.Current research pertaining to never-married women may help todissuade prevalent stereotypes regarding this lifestyle andperhaps serve as the foundation for the formulation of morecomprehensive theories of women's life and career development.Information regarding the lifestyles of never-married women mayenable practitioners to provide these and other women with7greater support in the development of meaningful life and careerstructures.8CHAPTER TWOREVIEW OF THE LITERATUREA review of the relevant literature as it relates to the lifeexperiences of never-married women will proceed through ahighlighting of three main focus areas: theories of women'sdevelopment, women's career theory and a review of the currentknowledge regarding the single life-style and that of never-married women. An examination of the research on women'sidentity, life-span and career development may assist inproviding a context within which the experiences and life choicesof the never-married mid-life women in this study, may be betterunderstood.While one of the primary purposes of this chapter is toconsider what is known about never-married childless women inmid-life, it will become apparent that the most importantresearch is yet to be done. In this chapter available literature isdiscussed and the major categories under which the never-married have been investigated are identified. Throughout thechapter, the term never-married has been used interchangeablywith ever-married. The term single denotes the broader referencegroup comprised of the never-married, widowed and divorced, andis generally inclusive of all ages. Throughout the thesis referenceto never-married childless women may be presented as simply9never-married women and is to be regarded as never-married andchildless unless specified otherwise.Research on Women's DevelopmentThe study of women's development has been approachedfrom two perspectives; the sociological/cultural perspectivewhich has given rise to theories of women's life-cycledevelopment and the psychological perspective which endeavorsto illustrate the intra-psychic formation of identity and self-concept in women. While often guided by differing sets ofresearch issues, sociological and psychological studies generallyconcur that life span development and identity formation inwomen is characterized by distinct themes and patterns that setthem apart from men.Gallos (1989), for example, proposed that "women constructtheir conceptions of themselves, their lives, and the world aroundthem differently from men" (p. 110). She stated that fundamentaldistinctions between male and female paths of development mayaccount for significant variations in their respective life andcareer experiences. Whereas theories of male developmentdescribe males as directed towards strengthening identity,empowering the self and charting a life course focused on theattainment of career success (Erikson, 1968; Perry, 1970;Levinson, 1978), current theories of women's development viewwomen as "tied to understanding and strengthening the self inrelation to others" (Gallos, p. 115). This ongoing process of10attachment to significant others is regarded by researchers as animportant source of identity, maturity, and personal power forwomen (Bardwick, 1980; Eichenbaum & Orbach, 1988; Gilligan,1982; Josselson, 1987; McClelland, 1975), a factor which isbelieved to significantly impact the ways in which womenexperience their lives and their careers.To the present time, however, few studies have exploredhow identity is organized in women. Existing psychologicaltheories of development, derived from the study of men, haveconsequently been theories of separation and autonomy ratherthan theories of connection and relationship (Miller, 1976;Surrey, 1984). Modern American theorists of early psychologicaldevelopment and of the entire life span, from Erikson (1950) toLevinson (1978), viewed all of development as a process ofseparating oneself out from the matrix of others. Thedevelopment of the self was thought to be attained through aseries of crises by which the individual accomplished a sequenceof separations from others, thereby achieving an inner sense of aseparated and individuated self. Erikson's concept of identity wasa major contribution to psychological theory as well as theimpetus for the studying of post-childhood stages ofdevelopment. He proposed that much of what happens duringadolescence influences the future life course through the identitydevelopment process. In his eight-stage depiction of the life-cycle Erikson (1950, 1956, 1968) theorized that issues of11identity must be resolved before issues of the next stage,intimacy versus isolation, are addressed. Thus, in this model,after the first stage, in which the aim is the development of ofbasic trust, the aim of every other stage until young adulthood issome form of increased separation or self-development.As women have become the more frequent subjects ofresearch and as women have themselves become the researchers,theoreticians have speculated that concepts of autonomy,independence and achievement do not appear to describe theprimary experience of growing up female. For example, Gilligan's(1982) influential study of moral development illustrated thatthe women in her study conceptualized and experienced the world"in a different voice" from that of men. From this perspectiveGilligan hypothesized that women's desire to remain emotionallyconnected to others fosters a voice which is empathetic, person-centered and less abstract than the male voice. Her theoryproposes that whereas the dominant image among men describes acompetition to be alone at the top, women desire to be at thecenter of connection to others. Gilligan concludes that becausemen and women operate with different internal models,experiences such as achievement and affiliation can be viewed aspervasive and fundamental differences in their life structures.Researchers Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule (1986)have further developed these observations and proposed thatwomen possess a unique, intuitive "way of knowing" that is12devalued in a society where there is a greater appreciation forthe demonstration of abstract knowledge and logic. According tothese researchers, among women, the subjective or individualexperience is prized more highly than the objective, therebyallowing women's sense of self to remain more fluid andconnected with their reality.Belenky, et al. 's (1986) study, conducted over a five yearperiod, involved in-depth interviews with 135 women of diverseage, social class, ethnic and educational backgrounds. Thewomen's perspectives were grouped into descriptive categoriesbased on Perry's (1970) sequence of epistomological perspectivescalled "positions" (i.e., basic dualism, multiplicity, relativismsubordinate and relativism). Perry's positions described howconceptions of the nature and origins of knowledge evolve andhow understanding of one's self as knower changes over time.From the data collected, Belenky et al. (1986) describedwomen's perspectives on knowing via five epistomologicalcategories. Silence described the position wherein womenexperienced themselves as voiceless and mindless, andresponsive only to the direction of external authority. ReceivedKnowledge described the perspective from which women regardedthemselves as capable of receiving and reproducing knowledgefrom authorities, but were not capable of creating knowledge ontheir own. Subjective Knowledge described the perspectivewherein truth and knowledge were conceived as personal, private13and subjectively known or intuited. Procedural Knowledge was theposition from which women sought out learning opportunities andthe application of objective procedures for obtaining andcommunicating knowledge. Finally, Constructed Knowledgerepresented the position from which women viewed all knowledgeas contextual, and regarded themselves as the creators of bothsubjective and objective strategies of knowing. Hence, Belenky etal. 's research illustrated five different perspectives from whichwomen view reality and draw conclusions about truth, knowledgeand authority. In doing so their study demonstrated how women'sself-concepts and ways of knowing are intertwined and fluid.Chodorow (1978), a proponent of Object-Relations theory,proposed that women never separate or individuate as much asmen because of their early developmental history. Chodorowcontended that daughters, because they are parented primarily bymothers who share their gender, form more permeable egoboundaries and experience themselves as more continuous withothers. The theory advanced that because a daughter isexperienced by her mother as a narcissistic extension of herself,separation between them becomes only partial and on some levelthey remain always emotionally connected. Males, however,because they must pull away from their mothers in order toidentify themselves as male with fathers, are believed toexperience themselves as more separate and distinct from othersthereby developing more rigidly structured ego boundaries.14In adolescence, the theory proposed, daughters endeavor tomove further away from their identification with mothers. Thisseparation, however, is made difficult due to years of intenseemotional attachment. Although the daughter's connectedness toothers is explored within an ever-widening circle ofrelationships, Chodorow (1978) suggested that daughters neverfully relinquish their emotional attachment to their primaryemotional caretaker. Thus, the desire to connect with and be likeothers is seen as part of an undisturbed process betweendaughters and their mothers which begins early in life andcontinues into adulthood. This process, claimed Chodorow,illustrates that "the basic feminine sense of self is connected tothe world; the basic masculine sense of self is separate" (p. 169).Using the theoretical perspective of Object-Relationstheory, Eichenbaum and Orbach (1983) described how femaleidentity develops within the context of a patriarchal society andis fostered within the mother-daughter relationship. Three majoractivities are believed to contribute to the shaping of themother-daughter relationship: 1) the mother identifies with thedaughter because of their shared gender and projects on her thesame negative, culturally prescribed feelings she holds aboutherself; 2) these projections include unconscious, repressedaspects of the mother's unfulfilled self (her inner "little girl")which she has learned early in life to deny and dislike; and 3) themother's ambivalence and conflict regarding her primary life role15is directed outwardly at her daughter who then feels invalidated,rejected and insecure.According to Eichenbaum and Orbach (1983), this processensures that the maturing daughter, by learning to identify withher mother's caretaking role, loses any expectation that sheherself will be cared for. She develops highly sensitive emotionalantennae which assist her in attending to the needs of others, therequisite alternative to attending to her own unmet needs. Thedaughter's repression of her own "little girl" results in behaviorwhich promotes a false way of relating to the world, difficultiesin forming healthy personal boundaries and an inability toarticulate her own needs. By denying her psychological needswhich she believes will never be met, the young woman searchesin vain for the nurturing relationship that will provide her withself-fulfillment. Hence, proponents of Object-Relations theorysuggest that traditional patterns of socialization may beinternalized into the construction of the self in women, withoutany overt expression of support by influential others fortraditional or conventional roles. This perspective also describeswhy tasks of self-definition are experienced with difficulty bymany women.Miller and her research group (Miller, 1976, 1984; Kaplan &Klein, 1985; Surrey, 1984) have postulated the existence of a"relational self" in women that is central to their intra-psychicgrowth. Miller (1976) stated that -16Development according to the male model overlooks the factthat women's development is proceeding but on anotherbasis . . . Indeed, women's sense of self becomes very muchorganized around being able to make and then to maintainaffiliations and relationships (p. 83).The Self-in-Relation model of identity development emphasizedthe importance of the mother-daughter dyad to the developmentof women's relational self (Jordan & Surrey, 1986; Kaplan &Surrey, 1984). It has been posited that the outcome of healthydevelopment in women can be viewed as "relationship-differentiation" rather than "separation-individuation" whichemphasizes self-reliance and individual outcome (Mahler, Pine &Bergman, 1975). This model suggested that the female selfevolves due to four positive structural aspects inherent in themother-daughter relationship: (1) an emotional attentivenessestablished early within the relationship; (2) mutual empathy andaffective joining between the mother and daughter; (3) theexpectation that relationships are a major source of growth; and(4) mutual empowerment encourages maturation within thecontext of relationships.According to proponents of the Self-in-Relation model,women's connections validate their capacities as relationalbeings, provide the foundation for personal concepts of autonomy,competence and self-esteem, and are experienced as essential forwell-being and continued growth. Problems in development which17may occur among women are thereby believed to derive not due toa failure to separate from others, but because of a woman'sdifficulty in remaining connected to others while asserting adifferentiated, distinct self-concept (Kaplan, 1986).Development of Object-Relations theory and the Self-in-Relation model has laid an important foundation towardunderstanding the origins of relatedness and attachment inwomen's lives. Such approaches to women's identity developmenthowever, have not been without substantial criticism. BothEichenbaum and Orbach's (1983) approach and the Self-in-Relation theory (Jordan & Surrey, 1986) have been said to providelittle insight with respect to how fathers, family interactionsand the broader socio-political context influence development(Lerner, 1988). Furthermore, Lerner (1988) and Mednick (1989)caution that models which place women's identity developmentsolely within the context of relatedness and caring createartificial dichotomies between the identity structures of men andwomen. These researchers propose that generalizations whichdefine women as oriented toward caretaking (i.e., Jordan &Surrey, 1986) and attaining their identity through relationshipsof care and intimacy (i.e., Gilligan, 1982) may ultimately serve toreinforce stereotypical notions of autonomy as a masculine traitand relatedness as belonging exclusively to the domain of women.The capacity for independence and nurturance, theorists haveemphasized, is believed to exist simultaneously within all18persons (Hare-Mustin & Marecek, 1988). Finally, whileconsiderable theorizing and debate has taken place regarding thecentrality of relatedness to women's constructions of identity, tothe present time, there exists an evident lack of empiricalresearch with which to substantiate either claim. Furthermore,research has not examined whether women whose lives are notcentered around marriage and childrearing (i.e., never-marriedchildless women) construct lives wherein nurturance andrelational connections are experienced as primary.Although theory regarding women's identity structure andlife-course development has been forthcoming in recent years,few illustrative models exist which illuminate the patterns ofwomen's lives. Sheehy (1976) claimed that "the most one can doin describing women's life patterns is to report where variouschoices have led in the past. All we have to draw upon are thepatterns that do have a history" (p. 206). In her analysis Sheehyconducted 115 in-depth interviews with men and women ofeducated middle-class backgrounds who were between the ages of18 and 55. In describing the women's lives, Sheehy constructed achronologically sequenced pattern of life phases, beginning withthe most traditional lifestyle and ending with the most"experimental". The Caregiver described women who married intheir early twenties or before and who were at the time, of nomind to go beyond the domestic role. The Either-or women feltrequired in their early twenties to choose between love and19children or work and accomplishment. Sheehy described two typesof women belonging to the either-or category. The first type,Nurturers Who deferred Achievement postponed any strenuouscareer efforts to marry and start a family, however, unlike thecaregiver these women intended to pick up on an extra-familialpursuit at a later point. The second type, Achievers Who DeferredNurturing, postponed motherhood and often marriage as well, inorder to spend several years completing their professionalpreparation. Integrators were women who tried to combinemarriage, motherhood and career in their twenties. Never-MarriedWomen included "paranurturers" (i.e. social workers, teachers,nurses, and religious vocations) and "office wives" (women whodevoted their lives to the caring of public men and politicians atthe exclusion of any other deep personal life). Finally, Transientsdescribed women who chose impermanence in their twenties, andwandered sexually, occupationally and geographically.Sheehy (1976), in her analysis, noted that the identifiedcategories were intended to be descriptive of women's lives,rather than prescriptive. Consistent with North Americandemographic trends, however, of all the life patterns illustrated,Sheehy claimed that most of the women in her study had electedto become "caregivers". Models such as Sheehy's, due to theirinherent simplicity, give the impression that women's roles andlife choices can easily be compartmentalized. When applied to thelives of never-married childless women, for example, problems of2021categorization seem to occur. Never-married women, in additionto being represented by their own category, may also fall withinthe "achievers who defer nurturing" classification. Furthermore,Sheehy's description of the never-married woman as"paranurturer" and "office wife" may once again over simplify thelife roles of this particular group of women.A model devised by Bardwick (1980) suggested that women,during each phase of their lives, address the central question ofhow they will deal with the importance of relationships.Bardwick's tentative portrait of women's life phases endeavoredto illustrate how attachments, caring and relationships interactwith women's needs for achievement, thereby providing a key tothe content, non-predictability and sequencing of women's lifeexperiences. Bardwick proposed that in the early adult years (age17 to 28) women focus on the attainment of marriage or acommitted relationship. During the settling down period (age 30to 40) the need to raise a family is addressed. In middle adulthood(age 40 to 50) loosening social constraints permit many womento then consider developing a career. Age 50 and older can be atime of significant professional accomplishment for some womenand also a period of tending to life issues such as retirement,menopause, parental care and death. While Bardwick's assessmentof women's life phases has been derived without the use oflongitudinal data, it reflects the repeated themes of managingrelationships and fulfilling nurturing needs, a perspective manyresearchers believe is central to women's lives and careerpatterns (Giele, 1982; Baruch, Barnett & Rivers, 1985; Gallos,1989).Bardwick's (1980) model of women's age-specificdevelopmental tasks may require re-examination in light ofdecreasing annual marriage rates and the steady increase in theage at which women are choosing to marry (Gallos; 1989).Furthermore, the model may have limited utility when applied tothe lives of never-married childless women given that thesewomen have opted out of the socially sanctioned roles ofmarriage and motherhood which create the foci of Bardwick'smodel.Proceeding from the same basic tenant, Josselson (1987)proposed a stage theory model which described the roles playedby others in the formation of women's identities. Josselson, from1971 to 1973, conducted intensive interviews with sixtyrandomly selected female college and university seniors. Twelveyears later, thirty-four of the women were located andinterviewed again in an effort to understand how their adolescentidentity formation influenced their lives. Josselson proposed thatwomen's lives differ from each other in ways beyond the socialroles (i.e., mother or worker) that they participate in and that themost important differences between women lie in their internalpersonality configurations and the ways in which they developtheir self-concepts and identities. Josselson defined identity as -22the stable, consistent, and reliable sense of who one is andwhat one stands for in the world. It integrates one'smeaning to oneself and one's meaning to others; it providesa match between what one regards as central to oneself andhow one is viewed by significant others in one's life . . .Identity becomes a means by which people organize andunderstand their experience and deeply share their meaningsystems with others (p. 10-11).Building upon Erikson's (1956) concept of ego identity andMarcia's (1966) four identity status types, Josselson (1987)constructed from her research interviews the following briefportraits of women's identity-statuses. Foreclosures identifiedwomen who adopted the life projects that had been passed on tothem through their families. Identity Diffusions described womenwho were available to be shaped by whatever or whoever waswilling to mold them. Moratoriums identified women who activelyand consciously tested ways of being in an effort to discover anidentity that was consistent with their inner selves. Finally,Identity Achievers were women who eventually formulated anidentity, who sought out cultural avenues to express their senseof themselves, and who made commitments to ways of being andexperiencing. While Josselson acknowledged that adherence to the"identity diffusion" status is not regarded as desirable, shepurported that the other statuses represent differences in style,values and ways of searching for meaning in life. While23unexplored at the present time, Josselson's model of identitystatuses in women may provide a unique methodology with whichto explore the identity development of never-married women.Although this group of women have not "adopted the life projects"exemplified by their parent's familial roles, other importantrelationships may in fact play a role in the formation of thesewomen's lives and self-concepts.A review of the prominent literature on women's life courseand identity development has emphasized the centrality ofrelatedness to the construction of women's lives. The research ofGilligan (1982) illustrated women's tendency to definethemselves in terms of their relationships and connections toothers. Belenky and her colleagues (1986) identified in theirfemale subjects a unique subjective "way of knowing" emanatingfrom the women's connected/fluid sense of self. Chodorow (1978)and other Object-Relation's theorists emphasized the importanceof the early mother/daughter relationship in establishingempathetic qualities in women. Such affective qualities arebelieved to foster in women the desire for on-goingconnectedness to others thereby impacting their role choices andcareer motivations. The Self-In-Relation model theorists (i.e.Miller, 1976; Kaplan & Klein, 1985; Jordan & Surrey, 1986; etc.)posited that women's connections to others validate theircapacities as relational beings thereby providing the foundationfor personal concepts of autonomy, competence and self-esteem.24Sheehy (1976) described women's life course development basedon the adherence or rejection of traditional female roles, andBardwick (1980) in her model of women's life phases emphasizedthe importance of relationship throughout women's lives. Finally,Josselson (1987) concluded that women's identity is developedwithin the context of relationship with influential others. Theresearch literature presented paints a picture wherein women'slives and identities are believed to evolve within the sphere ofmeaningful relationships. While relatedness to others is clearlycentral in the life structures of married women and women withchildren, current models of development for women have notaddressed the importance of relatedness to the self-concepts andlife structures of women who have not pursued traditionallynurturant roles. The absence of marriage and childrearing in thelife structures of never-married childless women may suggestthat relatedness to others is not as central in the development ofthese women's identities and life roles.Literature on Women's Career DevelopmentMainstream North American culture has traditionallyacknowledged men as those who must work and pursue careers inour society. When women engaged in work it was expected to beof a limited duration, typically prior to and sometimes followingthe pursuit of the more sanctioned female roles of wife andmother. This view has led to the study of the career development25of males and subsequently cast theories of work and career into arepresentation of the male experience.Work, described as "performance and mastery incompetitive situations" (Skovholt, 1990, p. 39), implies the needfor men to develop skills and character dispositions which willenable them "to achieve, to succeed, to control, to maintainpower, (and) to compete" (Leafgren, 1990, p. 3) in thecontemporary marketplace. Male gender-role socialization inNorth American culture endeavors to expose males to activitieswhich encourage the development of achievement-orientedbehavior, aggressiveness and single-mindedness. Aspects ofcharacter such as these are believed adaptive to the world ofwork and are therefore regarded as elements necessary for thecareer success of males (Levinson, 1978).Career theory derived from male conceptions of worknecessarily represents the career trajectory of the stereotypemale. In order to be judged successful, a man must, in any seriesof jobs, demonstrate progress, hierarchical movement, anincreasingly large salary, and increasing respect and recognitionfrom colleagues (Gutek & Larwood, 1987). Research pertaining towork and career have consequently resulted in identification andsupport for patterned, sequential career paths which suggest alinear upward movement, epitomized in the notion of "vocationalmaturity" (Crites, 1969; Super, 1977).26Foremost career theorist, Super (1977), for example,regarded career development as the mastery of increasinglycomplex tasks during particular life stages. His theory ofvocational behavior, derived from the male experience, comprisedthe following sequence of five vocational developmental stageswith five corresponding age-appropriate developmental tasks:Stage 1 - Growth (from birth to age 14) included the developmentof self-concept, interests, capacities and needs. Stage 2 -Exploration (age 15 to 24) was regarded as the period of self-examination, trials, transitions and tentative decision-making.Stage 3 - Establishment (age 25 to 44) consisted of trialcommitments leading to stabilization, consolidation andadvancement. Stage 4 - Maintenance (age 45 to 64) described thecontinuation of established work and efforts to preserve achievedstatus and gains, and Stage 5 - Decline (age 65 and beyond) wasregarded as the period during which work activities decreasedand new roles were developed. Super's model illustrated theaccepted male career path with an entry point in lateadolescence, stable progress, upward movement, constantparticipation, and finally, exit.While linear models of career development (e.g. Super,1977) are believed to adequately illustrate patterns of careerdevelopment in males, they seem to have little in common withthe life and career experiences of women occupying moretraditional roles. The infusion of women (many of whom are27mothers) into the labour force in the last half of the twentiethcentury has numerous researchers questioning the relevance ofcurrent conceptions of career for women (Faver, 1984; Gallos,1989; Giele, 1982; Gutek & Larwood, 1987). Like theories of adult(male) development, popular career theories are based onpsychoanalytic conceptions that stress the centrality of work toidentity, and notions that maturity and personal empowermentrequire separation from others (Erikson, 1968; Levinson, 1978).Some feminist theorists contend that male-based perspectives donot accurately describe the career development of women,recognize their distinct developmental differences and rolewithin the family life cycle, nor do they adequately account forthe diversity of women's life and career experiences (Belenky,Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule, 1986; Gallos, 1989; Gilligan, 1977;Miller, 1976).Although models such as that of Super (1977) may havelimited utility in describing the career experiences of womenwho choose to combine more traditional roles with paidemployment, research has not yet addressed the applicability ofmale models of career to the career development of workingwomen who have not assumed traditional roles, such as thenever-married childless woman. Because the life coursedevelopment of these women is not interrupted by marriage andchild-rearing responsibilities, the career paths of never-married28childless women may more closely resemble the career paths ofmales than those of women engaged in traditional roles.In spite of considerable theorizing on women's life andcareer development, a review of the literature revealed that atthe present time limited empirical research exists and fewillustrative models have yet been devised. Expert opinion is alsodivided over whether a separate theory of career development isneeded for women (Astin, 1984; Brooks, 1984; Diamond, 1987;Fitzgerald & Crites, 1980; Gilbert, 1984; Osipow, 1983). Gallos(1989), in her review of the literature on women's development,arrived at the conclusion that separate models for men andwomen were required for a variety of reasons -Women's distinctive developmental voice and needs point tofundamentally different career perspectives, choices,priorities, and patterns for women that need to beunderstood and appreciated - differences that are onlyfurther expanded when cultural expectations, shiftingsocial norms, employment opportunities, marital practises,childbirth and rearing, organizational policies, andinstitutional practices are added to the picture (p. 127).At the present time however, a separate model of careerdevelopment for women has not been advanced. In addition to theexisting models of male career development only one alternativemodel has been devised. Astin (1984) proposed a model of careerdevelopment which, she asserts, "can be used to explain the29occupational behavior of both genders" (p. 118). Her premisesuggests that "basic work motivation is the same for men andwomen, but that they make different choices because their earlysocialization experiences and structural opportunities aredifferent" (p. 118). Austin's "sociopsychological" model wasdeveloped with the intent of examining the effects of socialforces and personal characteristics as they interact to shapehuman career choice behavior.Astin (1984) postulated that all people are motivated tosatisfy needs for survival (physiological), pleasure (intrinsicsatisfactions available from work), and contribution (usefulnessto society and recognition for one's contribution). She suggestedthat these three needs, assumed to be the same for men andwomen, can be satisfied in many different ways. By choosing toconceptualize a common set of work motivations for women andmen, the model can potentially identify the mediating variableswhich translate the same set of work motivations into differentwork expectations, and hence, different career outcomes. Astinexplains that by "using this approach, the model can explain bothbetween-group differences in career outcomes (i.e., why womenand men tend to engage in different types of work activities) andwithin-group differences (i.e., why some women engageexclusively in family work, while others choose paid employment,and still others engage in both)" (p. 119). Austin's model of careerdevelopment in women and men, while not yet empirically tested,30may serve to illustrate the career development of never-marriedchildless women.A review of the literature on women's career theory hasrevealed that current models of career development have beenbased primarily on the experiences of males (e.g. Crites, 1969;Super, 1977). Theorists of women's development have advancedthe perspective that male models of career do not take intoaccount the relational component which is central in theunfoldment of women's life and career experiences (Belenky,Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule, 1986; Gallos, 1989; Gilligan, 1977;Miller, 1976). While it would seem apparent that male careerpaths offer little to illuminate the work experiences of moretraditionally oriented women, empirical research has notdetermined whether male models may be applied to the careerpaths of never-married childless women. Astin's (1984)sociopsychological model devised to account for the workbehaviors of both men and women has not yet been empiricallytested. The current status of women's career development speaksto the need for further theory building, model development, andempirical research. The career development of never-marriedchildless women, at the present time, has not been examined byproponents of women's career theory.Research on Never-Married WomenNever-married women have only recently been studied as aseparate research focus. Most often they have been part of31studies of single persons which included the separated, thedivorced and the widowed. When they have been identified as aunique research category, for the most part, age has not beencontrolled. This fact is particularly important because the never-married group, theoretically, can include teenagers tocentenarians. The majority of unmarried people in this group areusually under 30, and it is reasonable to assume that most willeventually marry. Consequently, our knowledge of the never-married woman over 30, who has moved out of the so-calledacceptable age at which most women marry in North Americatoday, is presently limited.The state of our existing knowledge about never-marriedwomen, particularly the never-married woman in mid-life, islimited at best. At this stage of the enquiry, information as itexists will be presented and inferences will be drawn frombodies of literature on single individuals. Although the singles"phenomenon" has received recent attention from the popularmedia, the social sciences have generally ignored unmarriedadults or examined them merely in contrast to those who aremarried. As noted by Stein (1981), "singles have often beenregarded as a somewhat deviant group, different from "normal"married adults, and until very recently they have been avoided asa subject of serious research" (p. 1).When studies of single adults have taken place, the researchhas focused predominantly on the relationship between marital32status and psychopathology. These studies consistentlydemonstrated that married individuals were more healthy thantheir unmarried cohorts in terms of psychological well-being,mortality, and psychological adjustment (Bernard, 1972).Furthermore, while a cause and effect relationship has never beendemonstrated between marriage and well-being, social scientistsand lay-persons alike, appear to tacitly accept such arelationship (Dean & Lin, 1977).Single adults have also been compared to married adults interms of perceived "life satisfaction", as measured by self-reports of happiness. Unmarried adults, particularly unmarriedmen, have been consistently reported as less happy with theirlives than their married cohorts (Freedman, 1978), althoughsingle women are believed to be more happy and satisfied withtheir lives than single men (Campbell, 1975). While studies haveconsistently shown that married people are happier than singlepeople, theorists such as Freedman (1978) warn that there is noproof that marriage actually produces happiness nor converselythat being single prevents it. Adams (1976) stated that thepersistent devaluation of singleness as deficient has predisposedmany single people to define themselves as unhappy "just becausethey were conspicuously outside the system, or pattern ofrelationship that was highly, if not exclusively correlated withpersonal satisfaction and self-fulfillment" (p. 64). Bernard(1972) similarly concluded that single women do not consider3334themselves as happy as married women, since marriage is thepreferred social status in North American culture, even thoughthey give otherwise good evidence of leading full and contentedlives.A more recent study on life satisfaction by Loewenstein,Bloch, Campion, Epstein, Gale and Salvatore (1981) addressed thestresses and rewards in the lives of single mid-life women. Sixtysingle women, ranging in age from 35 to 65, previously married ornever-married, childless and with children, were interviewedusing a semi-structured interview format which "focused onfacts and feelings in the areas of relationships, sexuality, work,religion, health, help-seeking, and living arrangements . .regrets, hopes, fears and wishes" (p. 1129). The following resultswere attained from the interviews: "Only 15% of the entiresample reported low life satisfaction, a percentage similar tothat found in the general population" (p. 1127). Marital status wasfound to be statistically unrelated to life satisfaction (p < .55).The perceived disadvantages of single life included "financialproblems", "sole care of family members", "societal attitudes"and "loneliness", while the stated advantages were "freedom,independence, pride and self respect", "pursuit of career goals","personal growth and friendship", and "privacy" (p. 1133). Theauthors concluded that the sampled women "seemed as content asother Americans: and when single mid-life women seek help,mental health professionals should not assume that theirunmarried status is necessarily the cause of their distress" (p.1140).The results of Loewenstein, et al.'s (1981) study advancethe notion that the single lifestyle can be satisfying for somewomen. However, this study examined a never-married andformerly married sample. Studies on previously married men andwomen reveal more evidence of depression and otherpsychological disturbances among the widowed, divorced andseparated than among never-married and married individuals(Warheit, Holzer, Bell, & Arey, 1976; Pearlin & Johnson, 1977).Hence, a sample of never-married women may serve to moreclearly illustrate the positive aspects of the never-marriedlifestyle.A study by Simon (1987) explored the economic,psychological and social strategies of 50 never-married childlesswomen between the ages of 66 and 101. These women of diverseethnic, religious and social class backgrounds discussed theirexperiences of relationships with families and friends, theirwork life, aging and retirement, as well as their attitudestowards marriage and their own singleness. A consistent themewhich surfaced in the interviews was the value that the never-married participants placed on sustaining close relations withfamily members and friends. The women also describedthemselves as pivotal figures in their sibling's families, takingthe roles of sister and aunt very seriously. They placed their35connectedness with friends at the very center of their self-conceptions. The role as friend appeared integral to the women'ssense of themselves at all stages of adult life, but particularlyduring retirement, when paid work disappeared as an element indaily life and in identity construction.The women in Simon's (1987) study emphasized threethemes in their work life - inadequate salary, limitedoccupational choice and the centrality of paid work to theiridentities. For these women paid work meant economicindependence which allowed them to make choices about theirlives independently from the preferences of their family andfriends. It also, as Simon stated, "provided the sole claim ofnever-married women for public recognition of their agency,responsibility, and social legitimacy" (p. 128). Of the fifty womenin Simon's study 76% indicated that they chose to be single andthe majority of the 50 women stated that they preferred singlelife.The results of Simon's (1987) study begin to paint apreviously unseen picture of the life structures of never-marriedwomen. Replete with diverse relationships and meaningful work,the lives of the women in Simon's study demonstrate theparticularities of a "preferred" single lifestyle. This studyexamined the life experiences of never-married women in laterlife. At the present time a similar study has not been undertakenwith never-married women in mid-life.36Adams (1976) studied 27 single women and men betweenthe ages of 25 and 69, who were childless, never-married anddivorced or widowed for five or more years. Utilizing acombination of in-depth interviews and impromptu conversations,Adams examined single persons' social functioning and their self-perceptions of singleness. The researcher addressed the pervasivebelief that single people are necessarily doomed by their socialstatus to lead lonely, isolated, vulnerable, and emotionallyimpoverished lives. To the contrary, Adams' data revealed thatthe single individuals in her study, rather than lacking in personalrelationships of an intimate nature, or failing to possess thecapacity for commitment to the concerns of others, appearedsimply to "structure" their relationships differently than whatmight be found in conventional marriages or the like. Whereasexclusive dyad relationships (husband-wife, parent-child) are thenorm in Western culture, many of the single individuals in Adams'study organized their social relationships according to an"extended family model". Put another way, rather than creating arelationship with a "single anchor point" many unmarriedindividuals tend to create and maintain "multiple attachments" (p.65). Adams proposed that when this format is recognized bysingle individuals themselves and by their family and friends, therelationships it generates can serve as an important reservoir ofemotional and social strength. In regard to the multipleattachments of single people Adams remarked -3738Its special asset is its fluidity, which springs from the factthat the unattached status of single people allows them torelate flexibly across generations with greater ease thantheir married peers, who are more rigidly locked intospecific and narrower roles (p. 84).Adams (1976) proposed that sociological and psychologicalfactors combine to define the "essential features" of the singlepersonality and status. She found that women who chose toremain unmarried seemed to prefer a greater degree of socialindependence, demonstrating "consistent and purposefulresistance to succumbing to the intricately interdependentsystem of marriage and the nuclear family" (p. 19). Furthermore,the motives, drives and personality constituents exhibited bymany of the single people in her study, suggested Adams, alsoimplied -a very strong sense of psychological self-sufficiency andpersonal integrity, both of which are independent ofexternal emotional confirmation and are not realizedthrough long-term exclusive emotional commitments to aspecific individual, whether a lover, wife, husband or child"(p. 19).Adams found that one of the strong forces determining singlenesswas the quality of "psychological autonomy." The singleindividuals Adams interviewed were believed to "have a specialappreciation of, and need for, solitude" (p. 87). The researcherbelieved that single people, in order to accommodate the benefitsof the single lifestyle, recognized that certain compromiseswould be necessary, one of which was coming to terms with theprospect of recurrent, predictable loneliness.Adams' (1976) observations have provided a needed insightinto the personality constituents and relationship structures ofindividuals adhering to the single status lifestyle. Information ofthis kind may be valuable in more clearly understanding hownever-married childless women construct their lives. Adams,using in-depth interviews and impromptu conversations,examined the lives of previously married and never-married menand women. Without further research to confirm her findingsthere is no assurance that Adams' findings apply to never-marriedchildless women in mid-life.Never-married childless women were one group examined byBaruch, Barnett, and Rivers (1985) in a random-sample survey ofapproximately 300 women aged 35 to 55. Questionnaires wereinitially presented to all of the women and intensive interviewslater conducted with a smaller group of subjects. The purpose ofthe study was to determine what contributes to a woman's senseof well-being. The study examined two dimensions of well-being:Mastery, was strongly related to the doing or instrumental side oflife and Pleasure, was closely tied to the feeling side orrelational aspect of life. Utilizing an analysis based on the twomeasures Baruch and her colleagues examined the lives of six39different groups of women: married with children, at home;married with children, employed; married without children,employed; married without children, at home; divorced withchildren, employed; and never-married, employed (defined aschildless, not widowed or divorced). From their analysis of all ofthe women the researchers arrived at the following conclusions:A woman who works hard at a challenging job is doing somethingpositive for her mental health. Marriage and children do notguarantee well-being for a woman and being without a man orbeing childless does not guarantee depression or misery. Finally,the study revealed that doing and achieving were at least asimportant to the lives of the participants as were relationshipsand feelings.The never-married women in Baruch et al.'s (1985) studyillustrated that never-married women, like other working womenin the study, scored higher on Mastery than non-working women.Additionally, while the Pleasure scores of previously marriedwomen were the lowest in the sample, those of never-marriedwomen were only marginally affected. Pleasure scores, claimedthe researchers, are strongly related to the presence ofsatisfying relationships in the lives of women. Baruch and hercolleagues made the observation that whereas the married womenand women with children in the study had close relationships"built in to their lives, never-married women had to "seek out"opportunities for intimacy. In addition to intimate relationships40being present in the never-married women's lives, they alsorelied upon "networks" of friendships, a finding consistent withthat of Adams (1976). These multiple relationships functioned asimportant sources for both Mastery and Pleasure in the women'slives. Baruch et al. found that network building appeared to be askill that the never-married women in their study wereparticularly good at. The researchers stated -Not having the built-in companionship of husband andchildren, they create a web of friendships and extendedfamily relationships to take their place. We believe this isone of the most important steps a single woman can take toensure her well-being - perhaps second only to finding achallenging job (p. 278).The never-married women in Baruch et al.'s (1985) studypossessed the highest Mastery scores of all the status groupingsand were also the best educated group in the sample. "Having ahigh-level job, and preferring to be employed rather than be ahomemaker, were both very important for never-married women'ssense of Mastery" (p. 69). For these women, Pleasure, likeMastery, was affected by work-related issues. The quality of lifeat work or "work balance," was regarded as particularlyimportant as work contributed to the women's sense of enjoymentas well as to their self-esteem. The researchers also notedhowever, that the themes of achievement and work dominated thediscussions of all of the women in the sample and nearly half of41the entire sample surveyed reported that the most rewardingaspect of their lives was related to achievement in educationand/or work.The findings suggested that the never-married women inBaruch et al.'s (1985) study were "perhaps more intenselyvulnerable to feeling different and out of step than any othergroup" (p. 68). These women had been born during the 1930s and1940s to parents experiencing the Great Depression and theSecond World War. Traditional societal attitudes regardingwomen's roles made the ever-single life path a tenuous one formany of the women of this generation. The researchers proposedthat women who rejected the narrowly prescribed path thatwould bring social approval frequently turned to their families oforigin for affirmation regarding their lives. The quality of theirrelationship with their family members contributed to theirsense of Mastery. Consequently, family relationships which werenot experienced as a source of support could also become a sourceof vulnerability to the women.Life satisfaction and personal well-being seemed also to berelated to the women feeling they were where they wanted to bein their lives. The never-married women in Baruch et al.'s (1985)study who said they preferred being single were found to ratehighly in well-being. Conversely, women who would havepreferred to be married scored relatively low on both Mastery andPleasure. The researchers stated that -4243The picture of single women that emerges shows a sharpdistinction between those who are thriving, enjoying theirlives, and those who are not. The women who preferred to besingle - or those who expected to marry but who have cometo terms with the fact that they did not - are generallydoing well. But those women who feel that their singlehoodmeans they are rejected or "not chosen", suffer in terms ofwell-being (p. 262).The survey research study conducted by Baruch and hercolleagues (1983) provided a needed comprehensive description ofemployed ever-single childless women in mid-life. These womenillustrated the centrality of "network" relationships, education,income and meaningful work to their well-beings. While feeling"different" and "out of step," high levels of personal well-beingwere attained among those who were reconciled with theirsingleness and felt contented with their single status. Theresearch of Baruch et al. represents perhaps the first and onlylarge scale survey to examine the lives of never-marriedchildless women in mid-life. Further research on the work andrelationship patterns of never-married women is required,however, to substantiate their findings.A review of the literature on never-married women hasrevealed that our knowledge regarding this group is limited,conflicting, and mostly speculative. Data have been collectedfrom samples which have included men as well as women,44previously married individuals and parents and has includedpersons of variable age, social status, economic and educationalbackgrounds. Research has infrequently exclusively addressed thepersonal, relational and career experiences of never-marriedchildless women in mid-life.While the need for further empirical research is clearlyevident, existing data have perhaps begun to help shed stereotypicnotions regarding never-married women. Never-married womenhave reported being as satisfied with their lives as other statusgroups (Loewenstein, et al., 1981; Baruch et al., 1985). Arepeatedly surfacing theme has been the importance of closerelationships consisting of "networks" of family, friends,intimate others and co-workers (Simon, 1987; Baruch et al.,1985; Adams, 1976). Work, also, has been identified as central tothe women's identities (Baruch et al., 1983) and has providedthem with economic independence, public recognition and sociallegitimacy (Simon, 1987). Never-married women have beendescribed as possessing qualities of personality such asindependence, self-sufficiency and integrity (Adams, 1976).Although these women have reported feeling "different" and "outof stepTM, those who preferred or were reconciled with their singlestatus reported high levels of personal well-being (Simon, 1987;Baruch et al., 1985)The existing research literature on never-married women istoo limited to allow substantive conclusions to be drawnregarding the personal development, career paths and relationshipstructures of never-married childless mid-life women. Whilesome researchers have utilized interview formats to obtain theirdata, detailed experiential accounts capable of illuminating thestructures of meaning contained in the women's lives have notbeen pursued. Qualitative studies of this nature may contributesignificantly to the understanding of never-married women'slives and careers.In summary, theories of women's life span development,identity formation and career development are important toconsider when endeavoring to understand the personalexperiences and life structures of never-married childlesswomen. Contemporary notions regarding women's developmentencourage researchers and practitioners to recognize thecentrality of the relational sense of self to the design of women'slives. While women's relational proclivities have been regarded ascentral to the core life structures of more traditional women, atthe present time, empirical data have not demonstrated theapplicability of this emphasis to women who have not adopted thesocially sanctioned female roles. Never-married childless womenhave been described as beneficially involved in both relationshipsand work (Baruch et al., 1985) thereby implying that currenttheories of women's life and career development which emphasizewomen's nurturing needs may not tell the whole story.45Demographic trends indicating increases in the number ofwomen remaining single and childless speak to the need for a re-examination of existing theories of women's normativedevelopment and theories of women's careers. Such theories, ifthey are to be truly representative of the diversity of women'sexperiences, must deliberately include the life and career pathsof never-married childless women. Alternative life structuresneed to be examined if they are to be recognized and supported asacceptable and desirable life choices for women.In this study, the researcher has endeavored to illuminatethe personal experiences and subjective perceptions of never-married childless women in mid-life who were satisfied withtheir lives. As our knowledge of the life structures of never-married childless women increases, it is hoped that womenchoosing this lifestyle will do so with greater confidence,support and dignity.46CHAPTER THREEMETHODOLOGYDesignGallos (1989) identified three distinct approaches forstudying the development of adult women: sociologicalexplorations of the social and institutional structures whichimpact upon women; anthropological and social psychologicalresearch which addresses the cultural influences on women's rolechoices and their views of femininity and masculinity; and,psychological approaches which reveal the inner experience ofhow women endeavor to make sense of their worlds. This researchstudy, intent on exploring the meaning contained in the lifeexperiences of never-married, childless working women in mid-life, applied the psychological research approach. In doing so itfocused on the perceptions and experiences of the participantsand emphasized the meanings and significance they attached totheir relationships, career related experiences and concepts ofself.Use of a phenomenological paradigm is appropriate forresearch which aims to reveal the lived experience of individuals(Colaizzi, 1978; Giorgi, 1985). Herein, the meaning attached toexperience is revealed through an intensive focus on theindividual's subjective experience, feelings, personal views ofthe world and self, and the participant's private concepts. An4 7interest in never-married childless women's attempt tomeaningfully construct a life, led to the selection of aphenomenological paradigm to guide the research process.A "phenomenological methodology is more of an orientationthan a specific method" (Osborne, 1990, p. 83) wherein theprocedure used to accomplish the research is determined by thenature of the question devised. Moreover, the researcher mustremain open to the possibility that the initial question asked maynot be the final question. Phenomenological methodologyrecognizes the "unavoidable presence of the researcher in theformulation of the question" and all phases of the researchprocess (p. 81). As such, the phenomenological researcher throughrigorous self-reflection attempts to acknowledge her or his ownperspectives, assumptions and biases regarding the phenomena(bracketing). In doing so the researcher is compelled to moreclearly understand the objective and perspectival knowledgeattained from the research data. The researcher engaged in thisstudy acknowledges possessing a humanistic theoreticalorientation and is herself a never-married childless woman. Thiscombined perspective, during the study, was carefully monitoredto ensure that the lives of the study participants were notpresented in an inaccurately favorable light and the researcher'spreconceptions were identified and examined whenever theyarose. To illustrate, the researcher anticipated that the womenparticipating in the study might be expected to exhibit greater48involvement in and commitment to their careers than to therelationships in their lives. This preconception of the researcherwas identified and monitored throughout the data collection andanalysis process to ensure that the research procedures andoutcomes would not be influenced.A phenomenological orientation was also selected for itsutility as a particularly valuable mode of inquiry when perceivedbiases and omissions are known to permeate a body of literature(Giorgi, 1985), as is the case within the body of research relatedto women's development, women's career theory, and knowledgeregarding the lives of never-married, childless mid-life women.The phenomenological methodology selected allowed forexploration of the personal and career development of never-married childless mid-life women with the aim of providingdescriptions which may sensitize other researchers andclinicians to the nature and meaning of the experiencesarticulated by the participants. The findings may assist inbuilding a foundation for continued development of theory andinstrumentation (Giorgi, 1985).Selection of ParticipantsA self-selected sample of 7 never-married, childless,working women in mid-life who regarded themselves as satisfiedwith their lives, was utilized in the present study. The criteriafor measurement of life satisfaction was determined by thesubjective perceptions of the participating individuals. Potential49participants who responded affirmatively to the question "Do youregard yourself as satisfied with your life?" were regarded ascomplying to the criteria of life satisfaction. The decision tofocus the study on women who were satisfied with their liveswas elected to provide a counterbalance to the volume ofanecdotal literature available focused on identifying troubledindividuals and to learn more about the positive adaptation ofnever-married women.The researcher was intent upon revealing the perceptionsand experiences of women, who either by design or circumstance,had not adopted the roles traditionally associated with theirgender. Mid-life women, having essentially passed the life stageduring which they might have chosen to bear children, wereidentified as an appropriate age group for the study because thisparticular cohort would likely posses the perspective necessaryto reflect on and articulate how their status of having nevermarried and having remained childless, has impacted on theircareer, relationships and personal development. Mid-life forwomen, according to researchers Baruch, et al. (1985), is believedto be most illustrative of women's lives as a whole; by the age of40, women will have generally completed the crisis of youngadulthood (career choice, selection of a marriage partner,whether to have children) and now have the opportunity toexamine the outcome of such decisions. Once beyond the age of 60years, Baruch and her colleagues proposed that women may be50less concerned with career development and more engaged in thedominant concerns of aging (retirement, mortality).At the time of data collection, the women participating inthis research study ranged in age from 39 to 60, the mean agebeing 49 years. While all of the women had engaged actively inpaid employment throughout their lives, of the seven participantstwo had already accepted early retirement options and anotherplanned to retire within the coming year. Five of the sevenparticipants had completed post-secondary education and at thetime of the study, two of the women were engaged in furtheringtheir academic qualifications. Occupations of the participantsincluded accounting, teaching, nursing, clerical and researchfields. While data on salary were not collected within theinterview process, occupational status and lifestyle choicesidentified each of the women as middle-class socioeconomicstatus at the time of the interview.Participants for the study were recruited primarily by"word of mouth" and through a "snowball-effect" wherein friendsand colleagues of the researcher encouraged women they believedto be suitable for the study to call the researcher for furtherinformation. Notices describing the study were posted in theUniversity of British Columbia Social Work and NursingDepartments (see Appendix A), and a call for researchparticipants listed in the UBC Report and the Western CanadianFeminist Counselling Association (WCFCA) newsletter (see51Appendix B). Sixteen women contacted the researcher regardingthe study. The first seven participants fulfilling the selectioncriteria and who were available for interview during the datacollection period were accepted into the study. Two participantswere recruited by word of mouth through friends and colleaguesof the researcher, one was referred by a participant who hadcompleted her initial interview, one responded to the noticeposted in the Nursing Department, two responded to the listing inthe UBC Report and one heard of the study from a member of theWCFCA.Women interested in the study contacted the researcher bytelephone at which time they received additional informationregarding the study (i.e., the goals and nature of the research, therequirements for their participation and further backgroundinformation on the researcher). During the telephoneconversation, the researcher determined if each woman met theselection criteria outlined, and answered any questions thewomen had regarding the research. A mutually agreeable time andlocation was then established for an in-depth, tape-recordedinterview.Data CollectionThe initial interviews took place during the months of Apriland May of 1992. In three instances the interviews occurred inthe participant's homes and on four occasions, at the participant'srequests, the interviews occurred in the researcher's office. At52the onset of the first meeting, the establishment of rapport withthe participant was viewed as primary. The purpose and nature ofthe study was once again reviewed with the participant andparameters for the participant's involvement in the studydiscussed. Each participant was made aware of the voluntarynature of the study and reminded they could freely withdraw fromthe study at any time. Each participant was asked to read and signtwo copies of an ethical consent form (see Appendix C), retainingone copy for her own records. An opportunity was provided for theparticipant to ask any questions she had of the researcher priorto commencement of the interview. When concerns regardingconfidentiality of particular subject matter arose during theinterview, these were addressed with all participants beingassured that any identifying information would be withheld.The interviews were minimally structured to permit theparticipants to speak for themselves (Giorgi, 1985). Eachparticipant was oriented toward the general theme of the studythrough the reading of a general introductory statement (seeAppendix D). In this way the context for the study was presentedconsistently to each participant. The women were encouraged totell their stories in a manner that felt most comfortable. Mostelected to describe their experiences in a chronological fashionfrom early childhood, through youth and adolescence to mid-lifeand projecting forward to the future. A list of questions (seeAppendix E) had been prepared to guide the interview process and53was used to help the women more fully explore specific issuesand experiences as they were raised by each woman during theinterviews.Each interview was approached in a non-judgemental,process-oriented manner. Active listening was employedthroughout the interview process, having the effect of creating arelaxed conversational atmosphere. Open questions were used toencourage further elaboration and discussion of areas whichseemed of particular importance to the participant. Probes wereused to elicit information regarding, for example, the timing ofevents, and to facilitate further explanation and clarification.This approach served to deepen the women's exploration of theirperceptions and feelings. The use of silence allowed theparticipants full expression of their thoughts before probes wereemployed. In order not to disrupt the natural flow of storytelling,the researcher "tracked" topics during the interview that requiredfurther elaboration and redirected the participants back to thesetopics once they had completed expressing their thoughts.Process notes of the subjects' nuances of speech and gestureswere maintained by the researcher during the interviews, andlater incorporated where relevant into the research data.Each participant agreed to be audio tape-recorded with theknowledge that the tapes would later be transcribed verbatim toensure the accuracy and richness contained within each narrativedescription was retained. Each interview continued until the54participants felt they had received sufficient opportunity to fullyarticulate their thoughts and experiences. Five of the initialinterviews lasted approximately 2 hours while two participantsrequired approximately four hours to convey their stories.The participants were invited to offer a pseudonym forensuring confidentiality. Two of the women elected to do so andfive preferred to be identified by their first names. The womenwere encouraged to contact the researcher by phone following theinitial interview should other thoughts pertaining to the studyarise. One participant contacted the researcher to enquire howthe research study was progressing and all participants receiveda person note from the researcher by mail indicating that theywould be contacted within a short time for a validationinterview.Data AnalysisFollowing each interview the recorded tapes weretranscribed verbatim by the researcher. A thematic analysisprocedure devised by Colaizzi (1978) was then employed toanalyze the data, proceeding in the following manner. Theparticipants' descriptions or protocols were read through in theirentirety to get a general sense of the material. Second andsubsequent readings allowed the researcher to identify themeswhich appeared to be of particular importance to eachparticipant. Frequently these themes provided a thread ofcontinuity within each woman's story; a continuous element that55gave their narratives a distinctive personal quality. Clusters ofthemes common to all of the protocols were then identifiedthereby becoming the foundation or focal points for the studyanalysis. Creative insight on the part of the researcher wasrequired to "go beyond what [was] given in the original data and atthe same time, stay with it" (p. 59). Particular care was taken toallow the data to speak for itself and to ensure that anyconceptual theories were not imposed upon the narratives.Significant phrases which seemed to illustrate particular aspectsof importance to each participant were extracted and the meaningfor each illuminated. The results of the analysis were then"integrated into an exhaustive description of the investigatedtopic" (p. 61) and a statement of its "fundamental structure"identified.Following the preliminary determination of themes from thetranscripts, validation interviews took place with each of theparticipants to ensure the accuracy of the researcher's synthesis.Each of the women were requested to read their own lifenarratives containing bibliographic information of theirexperiences, as well as the common themes and verbatimquotations distilled from the women's protocols. Any omissionsor changes were incorporated into the final product of theresearch. Process notes maintained by the researcher during theinterviews, were also included in the participant validation56process to ensure the investigated phenomenon was accuratelyrepresented.Limitations of the StudyPhenomenological research methodology is based upondifferent metatheoretical assumptions than those used in naturalscience (Wertz, cited in Osborne, 1990). These differencesinfluence the nature of individual research goals and the methodsused to obtain them. Whereas natural science research aims atobjectivity through explanation, control and prediction,phenomenological research aims at the elucidation of meaning andthe understanding of human existence from an individual's pointof view. Phenomenological research, as demonstrated in thisstudy, is not concerned with the generalizability of its findingsto a wider population (Giorgi, 1985). As suggested by Osborne(1990), statistical generalizability is the aim of natural sciencemethodology while phenomenological research strives for a kindof generalizability which might be more appropriately regardedas "empathetic". The aim of this research was to illuminate themeaning contained in the life structures created by the never-married childless women participating in this study. While notintended to represent all women of never-married childlessstatus, the study results will hopefully provide a foundation forthe development of theory and promote further research interestsin this infrequently studied group.57CHAPTER FOURRESULTSThe results obtained from the in-depth interviews of theseven study participants will be presented in this chapter. Tohelp familiarize the reader with the salient aspects of eachwomen's experiences a brief synopsis of the women's life storieswill first be presented. Each narrative focuses on the woman'sfamily composition, her personal development from childhood tothe present time, her career development and her relationshipswith others. The common themes which arose from the interviewswith the women will then be listed, followed by a detaileddiscussion of each of the theme groupings. The women's wordshave been used wherever possible to enrich the data findings andto retain the authenticity of the women's experiences.The Women's StoriesEva's Life NarrativeEva was born in Western Canada in 1932, making her 60years old at the time of the interview. She was the youngestamong six children, the daughter of European parents whoemigrated to Canada in 1926. Early life during the depression wasdifficult; Eva's parents struggled to sustain their growing family,her father working as a miner and on the rail lines. At age five, asevere burn accident isolated Eva from her family during her58recovery for over a year and a half. In contrast to her siblings Evawas timid and shy but exuded a quiet strength.With the end of World War 2 in 1947, Eva, then fourteen,relinquished her Canadian citizenship and returned with herfamily to Europe. For the next five years she was challenged toadjust to her new environment. Struggling with the language Evawent to work, forfeiting education beyond grade seven. At age 19,she obtained an exit visa, and returned to Canada a year precedingher parents to work and re-establish their home. Arriving inVancouver alone, Eva immediately found work, first in the healthcare field and later in advertising.As a reprise from her work-a-day world commitments, Evadeveloped her athletic abilities becoming a proficient downhillskier, cyclist and hiker. Providing the primary financial supportfor her family, Eva lived with her parents until age 30. She thenembarked on a 6 month European ski holiday which was to becomeeight years of world travel before she returned home to Canada.As a solitary female traveller during the 1960s, Eva exploredvaried cultures and worked in countries throughout Europe, Asiaand Indo-China including such destinations as Greece, NorthAfrica, India, Nepal, Vietnam and Burma.Unable to adjust to cosmopolitan living upon her return, Evacontinued on to Alaska and the Yukon, finally settling in anorthern community with her brother and his family where sheattended a vocational school studying accounting. By age 40, Eva5960returned to Vancouver and secured a position with the governmentwhere she remained for the next twenty years. During that timeEva accumulated sufficient earnings to purchase her ownapartment and later a ski resort residential property. Sheremained an avid outdoor enthusiast and developed a strong andvaried network of friendships. While Eva did not marry, twointimate relationships with male partners offered her theopportunity to do so. She feels that her never-married status wasnot elected as a conscious choice but rather something whichevolved. Eva is the only sibling in her family who currently liveswithout an intimate partner and of the six children in her family,only two chose to raise children.As her aging parents required care, Eva again returned toher parent's home to live, while continuing a demanding career inauditing. With approximately a year remaining until retirement,at the time of this interview Eva was looking forward to movingto her resort property where she planned to reside among friendsand pursue her sports and nature interests.Joan's Life NarrativeWhen the interview took place, Joan was 47 years old andhad been working in the nursing field for over twenty years.Feeling thwarted in her ability to advance her career, Joan hadreturned to university and was engaged in studies toward aBachelor of Science degree.Raised in a Northern Alberta rural community setting, Joanwas the second eldest of four children, preceded by a brother twoyears her senior and followed by two sisters, two and four yearsyounger. The unexpected suicide death of Joan's father when shewas nine, required Joan's mother to become the primary incomeearner by resuming her teaching career. Joan's family, then livingwith her maternal grandparents, adopted a very strong religiousorientation that impacted the lives of all family memberssignificantly. As she was growing up, Joan regularly attendedreligious study classes, bible camp and she completed eight yearsof post-secondary education at bible college in Religious Studiesand later Nursing. Spirituality and education were predominantelements in the lives of Joan's immediate and extended family;one aunt was a missionary, another a teacher, her maternalgrandparents were well-educated, as was her mother and each ofher siblings.From an early age, Joan recognized within herself a growingdissatisfaction with traditional female role behaviors, adoptinginstead interests and activities which gave rise to a "tomboy-ishpersonaTM. Football, track and field and gardening were preferredto baking and sewing in her youth. In adult life Joan continues toenjoy fishing, hiking, and canoeing, while remaining activelyinvolved in the church. Joan's first nursing position at age 26coincided with the emerging awareness of her lesbian orientation.Until that time Joan lived an essentially A-sexual lifestyle. The61recognition of her lesbianism prompted a period of significantinner conflict as she endeavored to resolve the turmoil betweenher life-style and religious values. During this time, Joanparticipated in a volunteer mission project in an isolated NativeIndian reserve in Northern Ontario. Here she began to develop aprofound appreciation for minority cultures and the benefits ofcommunity living. Upon returning, a significant intimaterelationship and the awareness of impending mid-life promptedJoan to move to the West Coast where she found the desiredsupport for her lifestyle and religious commitment.Joan continued her nursing career in Vancouver for severalyears, accepting increasing levels of challenge and responsibilitywhile refining her career interests and direction. Having been in afew significant intimate relationships, Joan is currentlyunattached and living in a shared housing situation as a student.She values her independence and ability to adapt positively to asolitary lifestyle. While Joan enjoys the diversity and challengeavailable when living in a cosmopolitan center, she looks forwardto returning to the connectedness of a smaller community, whereshe hopes to pursue her interests in Nursing and Community Care.Linda's Life NarrativeLinda, an English Second Language (ESL) teacher, was 43 atthe time of the interview. She is the youngest among fourchildren and a sister of the study participant Joan, whosebiography was presented earlier. Linda currently possesses a62teaching degree and is attending university to attain her ESLdiploma.Raised in a devout Christian family, Linda recognized theprofound meaning spirituality would play in her life from a veryearly age. By age ten she felt that she knew her "whole life wasfor that purpose" and planned to become a missionary nurse orteacher. Following four years of bible college and three years atuniversity, Linda went overseas for two years and taught with aChristian organization in Hong Kong, similar to her missionaryaunt and uncle. While the cultural adjustment was exceedinglychallenging it resulted in Linda developing an acute sensitivity toand empathy for the plights of immigrant settlers in foreigncultures, an experience which has shaped her career path to thepresent time. Linda worked in various capacities with theChristian organization for several years until a growingdissatisfaction caused her to begin to question her high level ofinvolvement with the church.Turning forty was experienced as a traumatic transitionperiod for Linda, at which time she began to re-evaluate her life'swork and her personal values and needs. While her career shift toteaching ESL children was assumed with relative ease, theprocess of redefining and integrating who Linda was as a personcame as a deeper challenge. The desire to attain more life balanceprompted Linda to claim more time for solitude. Understandingthe life choices she had made required that Linda also examine63the significance of "growing up without a father" and the impactof being parented by her maternal grandparents in the absence ofher working mother.Linda grew up with the expectation that she would "have itall" including an education, a career, marriage and a family. Whileshe did have several opportunities to marry, various factors,particularly Linda's commitment to her religious career, seem tohave intervened. Although she still holds the desire for marriageand companionship, Linda expressed with some regret that shewould likely not have children at this late a stage. This absenceseems to be filled through her teaching career and through specialrelationships with her nieces and nephews, and children offriends.At the time of the interview Linda was completing adiploma course and looking forward to a summer spent with closefemale friends, most of whom are single like herself. Her diversefriendships allow her to share varied interests includingswimming, sports, cycling, concerts and other cultural activities.While Linda has tended to change jobs every five or six years sheis looking forward to remaining settled in her present career andto expanding her personal interests and activities.Judy's Life NarrativeJudy was born in Eastern Canada in 1951, making her 40years old at the time of the interview. She has one marriedsister, who is six years older. He father, now deceased, owned and6465operated an insurance business during Judy's youth and her motherwas primarily a homemaker. Judy's relationship with her sisterhas always been experienced as non-supportive and distant, andshe describes her family as not being particularly "close knit".Judy described herself as living a very sheltered life whenshe was growing up; not having a wide circle of friends orinterests, working summers for her father and feeling quiterestricted socially and culturally in the community in which shewas raised. Her father was quite traditional in his viewsregarding women, whereas Judy's mother, strong and independent,ensured that both of her daughters attended university in spite oftheir father's disapproval.Following high school, wishing to distance herself as farfrom home as possible, Judy chose a more remote universitywhere she attained a Bachelor's degree in Geography. Away fromfamily influence Judy had more social freedom, permitting her toattend parties and to continue a discouraged high schoolrelationship without the watchful eye of her parents.Unable to secure employment in her chosen field, Judyregretfully returned to university to attain a Bachelor ofEducation degree. Following further unsuccessful job-findingattempts, Judy finally accepted her first teaching position at aprivate girl's school; which she described as a particularlynegative experience. Unable to find work and with a series ofcareer disappointments behind her, Judy reluctantly accepted aservice position with Bell Canada where she remained for thenext six years. During this period, feeling unchallenged by herwork, Judy became increasingly disillusioned and depressed.Having alienated most of her friends, she returned home to herparents every weekend for support. Finally, against her father'swishes, Judy quit her job and was fortunate to find part-timeteaching work prior to returning to university for a third time toattain a diploma in School Librarianship.The academic milieu was a gratifying experience for Judyas she immersed herself in the rigorous two year program. Beforeher education was complete however, she dealt with the equallytraumatic experiences of her father's death and then that of herdog. Supporting her mother through an emotionally difficultperiod, Judy finished her academic studies and once againstruggled to find employment. A trip to Vancouver with hermother to visit Judy's sister and husband resulted in Judy findingthe long sought after employment as a part-time teacherlibrarian.With many opportunities for work, Judy decided to remainpermanently in Vancouver. While boarding with her sister andhusband, Judy's already tenuous relationship with her sibling wasfurther challenged. During a visit to her home in Ontario, Judypurchased another dog and returned to find accommodation forthem both in Vancouver.66A resident of Vancouver for five years, Judy's life is highlyfocused on her work which she finds quite satisfying. Shemaintains a close relationship with her mother and enjoys thecompany of her dog Sarah. Judy has not communicated with hersister and brother-in-law in over two years. With the financialassistance of her mother, Judy recently purchased a home whereshe and her dog find the privacy and comfort desired. Judy is infrequent contact with her mother by phone and her mother oftenvisits her for extended periods. Judy has four female colleaguesthat she sees periodically but is not very active socially,preferring instead to spend much of her time in a solitary fashion.Judy's relationship with her dog is particularly important to herand while she is open to male companionship, she clearly statedthat her dog is likely to remain the priority in her life. At thetime of the interview Judy expressed that both she and her dogSarah were quite satisfied and content.Lorraine's Life NarrativeBorn in Vancouver in 1938, Lorraine was 54 years old at thetime of the interview. She has one brother three years youngerwho has been married twice and has four children. Hergrandfather, father and brother operated a family businessfounded at the turn of the century, which has remained notable init's field. Lorraine's mother was a homemaker and was recentlydeceased after spending several years in a care home.67Somewhat broody and shy, Lorraine recalled as anadolescent growing up amid a family life wherein her motherappeared unhappy and dissatisfied. A favorable relationship withher father ended when, at twelve, Lorraine became her mother'sconfidant. Hearing massive criticisms regarding her father'sshortcomings, Lorraine's relationships with both of her parentswas irrevocably changed.Possessing an aptitude for typing and shorthand during highschool, and not wanting to pursue the university education herfather encouraged her toward, Lorraine found clerical workwithin a large corporation. While she initially enjoyed her job,Lorraine regarded herself as having been in the wrong field all ofher life. Describing herself as a "bird in a gilded cage", Lorrainerose to a position as executive secretary, a routine job whichafforded her ample income, the opportunity to purchase propertyand to travel extensively. While she made a few attempts topursue other career interests, Lorraine, appreciative of hercomfortable lifestyle, remained with the company for thirtyyears.An energetic woman, Lorraine described her life as equallybalanced between her work and intimate relationships. Rarelylacking for male companionship, most of Lorraine's five long-term relationship partners offered the opportunity for marriage.While none resulted in life-long commitment, Lorraine expressedfew regrets and continues to lead an active social life. A recently68acquired inheritance has allowed Lorraine to secure her economicfuture; as a result she has a clear title on her home and hasaccepted an early retirement. Her lifestyle permits her amplesolitude which she cherishes and freedom to travel, to treat herfriends, and to engage in various recreational pursuits.While a recent injury has kept Lorraine closer to home, atthe time of the interview she expressed delight and optimism atthe direction her life was taking. She looked forward to thefreedom of her new found lifestyle and hoped to volunteer inanimal rescue and care, a life-long love. Lorraine currentlyresides with her three feline companions.Ambika's Life NarrativeAt the time of the interview Ambika, a retired schoolteacher and librarian, was 60 years old. Born in Northern Albertain 1932, she moved with her parents and younger sister to theVancouver area when Ambika was ten years old. Her father,previously a farmer and mechanic, became a self-taughtfisherman and Ambika's mother gave birth to a son ten yearsAmbika's junior. From an early age it was apparent that Ambikadid not aspire to feminine roles, preferring instead to join herfather in his work and participate in farm chores and outdoorrecreation. Her aunt provided her with the nurturing andemotional support lacking from Ambika's mother. By adolescence,Ambika was aware that her relationship preferences were forother females.6970While high school studies were experienced as challenging,Ambika prepared herself for education training as a schoolteacher in the hopes of avoiding the anticipated drudgery of theclerical field. She succeeded and after teaching elementaryschool for a few years, enrolled in university to acquire herBachelor of Education degree, a decision that demanded thatAmbika remain committed to summer and night school courses forthe next six years. While Ambika's younger sister married and lefthome at age nineteen, Ambika remained living with her parentsfor years to come. At age twenty-five, Ambika prepared to moveout and reside with her lesbian partner, but threats by Ambika'smother of revealing the teachers' lifestyles to the school boardmade her plans go awry. While her intimate relationship lastedfor the next fifteen years, Ambika remained living with herparents, even purchasing them a home.In the years that followed, Ambika found respite from hermother's interference in her life through her work, herrelationships and by working on home and boat constructionprojects with her father. Following her father's death, Ambikacontinued to support her mother and at age 35, having purchasedanother residential property, moved out on her own. She becameinvolved in a second intimate relationship that would lasttwenty-two years, however, the women retained separateresidences. During this time Ambika explored her interests inclassical music, the opera, European travel, swimming and hiking.After 33 years of teaching and librarianship Ambika accepted anearly retirement opportunity. In need of a new challenge she tookcourses preparing for a possible business venture and designedand contracted the building of her own house.At the time of the interview Ambika was enrolled in aContinuing Education course for personal interest and continuedcaring for her elderly mother who resides in a senior's home.Previous over-involvement in community development activitieshas encouraged Ambika to lead a more solitary lifestyle at thepresent time. In addition to dealing with the hardships ofarthritis, Ambika is attempting to resolve the emotional pain shehas experienced and continues to experience in her relationshipwith her mother.Margaret's Life NarrativeMargaret was born in Eastern Canada in 1952, making her 39years old at the time of the interview. She was the second eldestchild of three, her brother aged seven years older and her sisterthirteen years younger. Margaret's father worked as a Law Clerkand her mother was a traditional homemaker of Roman Catholicfaith.From an early age Margaret identified with her father whoshared her love of literature and she also idolized her brotherwho was preparing to become a journalist. A "tom-boy" throughassociation with other males, Margaret took easily tostereotypically masculine activities and feeling that she did not71fit in with her female peers resorted to academic achievement.Education being valued in Margaret's family, she went on to attaina Bachelor's degree in English. Margaret explained that her motherwas particularly upset at the onset of her second year ofuniversity when she elected to move out of the family home.Defining herself separately from her mother while retaining anemotional connection to her has continued to be a source ofchallenge to Margaret throughout her adult life.While attending university Margaret supported herselffinancially and lived with her boyfriend, an importantrelationship which was not supported by her parents. During heruniversity years Margaret also travelled to Europe and observedher feminist orientation develop in the university milieu. Like herbrother, she then pursued a Degree in Journalism and worked as areporter for the next few years. Finding herself unsuited to theprofession, Margaret returned to university on a fellowship toattain her Master's degree in English. While working on her thesis,Margaret's parent's separation was initiated thereby upsettingfurther an already unstable family constellation. Distressed bythe emotional tug-of-war Margaret experienced as her parentsvied for their children's support and by her simultaneous breakupwith her boyfriend, Margaret left her education incomplete.For the next several years Margaret endeavored to recoverfrom her family's traumatic episode and her own academicshortfall. She worked for a time as the office co-ordinator for a7273hostelling association and then as a Medical Research Assistantfor a university clinic where Margaret remained for seven years.Eventual emotional and physical burnout related to her work placesetting forced Margaret to leave.Seeking an environment which was more amenable toalternative lifestyles, Margaret traveled across Canada solo toVancouver a year ago, where she is now nurturing herself into fullhealth. She continues to work as a researcher, is an active clubmember and traveller, and plans to engage in watercolor paintingand piano in the future. Margaret describes her gender orientationas androgynous and while not actively seeking malecompanionship she remains open to developing qualityrelationships with both men and women.Common ThemesThe process of data analysis revealed five common themeswhich arose from the women's in-depth interviews and thesubsequent validation interviews. Each of the identified themesreflects the experience of all of the women. Quotations have beenselected for their ability to illustrate and exemplify theexperiences of all of the participants.1. The experience of self as different.2. The experience of connectedness.3. The experience of fundamental aloneness.4. The experience of influential family role models.5. The experience of self-reliance.The Experience of Self as DifferentThe women in the study described themselves as feelingdifferent from their peers. This perception took on differentforms for the participants as they entered various phases in theirlives. For some it was the experience during girlhood andadolescence of perceiving themselves as different from theirclassmates in regard to their emerging self-definitions. Inadulthood the differences were most clearly illustrated throughthe differing roles and life paths the study participants followedfrom those of their traditionally oriented friends.For several of the women in the study, the experience ofbeing different from their peers was first recognized when theyreached puberty. Having identified with males and participated intypically masculine activities in their youth, many of the womendescribed being out of touch with the experiences of girls theirage. As expressed by Margaret, this experience resulted in abewilderment at not possessing a peer group with whom theycould identify:As an adolescent I didn't really have a sense of whatgirlhood was all about. I spent so much time being a torn boyand being buddies with boys, that all of a sudden when theywere not buddies anymore and you haven't achieved intimaterelationships with girlfriends - where are you? How do youdo it? What is it to be a girl?74A lack of appreciation for and unwillingness to conform tothe roles traditionally assumed by their gender prompted four ofthe women in the study to feel somewhat like "outsiders" and"nonconformists". They longed for a life style which during theirgeneration was not widely accepted or promoted among women.Joan's statement which follows illustrated the women'spreferences for more independence and self-determination:If anything was different about me I think it was that I hada strong sense that I didn't like the traditional kinds ofroles that girls got cast into . . . and I always felt thatgirls had the raw end of the stick and for a long time Ireally envied boys. Not so much that I actually wanted to bemale, but I just wanted to have the privileges and thefreedom that guys had.The experience of feeling different from one's peers wasnot exclusive to the women's early stages of development. Forsome, having shared companionship and activities with girlhoodchums, adulthood was the point at which life paths diverged. Likemany of the women, Lorraine reflected on feeling 'out of step' asan adult when she observed her women friends taking on thetraditional roles which she did not assume:We started out very close in school and all through highschool. Very close, we did things together constantly. Andas we got out of high school and started working, they weregetting married quite young. In fact, all three of them . . . so75then we started parting ways and they started havingchildren.For several of the women, the experience of being differentwas exhibited through activities that seemed to portray astrength, courageousness or daring unusual among women of theircohort. For Lorraine and others, it "was kind of breaking ground"to be a single female property owner at a time when few womencould access mortgages for the purchase of their own homes. ForEva it was through her eight continuous years of world travel as asingle woman in the early nineteen sixties:I did some things that a lot of people would probably havenever done and I'm thinking about my travels through Indiaand Pakistan and the countries I have gone through andtravelled alone in a good deal of them. And the way Itravelled was probably pretty unusual because I certainlydidn't meet too many women doing it the way I was.Finally, all of the women in the study recognized theirstatus as never-married childless women, and particularly theirsingleness in a family oriented society, as being an integral partof feeling different from others. Linda expressed her concern thatshe was, much to her dismay, similar in terms of lifestyle to the"spinster aunt" that her family looked upon as something of anoddity. Judy found herself bristling at the perception other's heldof her as being helpless and peculiar without a mate. For Eva, the76discomfort of friends with her single status was both surprisingand disappointing. She explained:I think other people are far more uncomfortable with thefact that a person is single, than the person that is single.I've always felt very comfortable about my status. I guessthe only time you don't feel comfortable is if you don't havea date for special occasions.Lorraine also expressed her outrage and dismay at being regardedas an aging single woman and thereby a social outcast:And you know the odd thing . .. when I tell them I am singleand I have never been married I am almost viewed as apariah . . . but I have never been conscious about this untiljust since I turned fifty, say, the last three or four years . .. I have just never been aware of the fact that I was such anoddball!While the experience of being perceived as different due totheir status as never-married women was at times expressed asone of frustration, each of the women spoke also of thegratification they experienced as a result of their singlelifestyle. All of the women described their lives as full, activewith friends and family, all cherished their freedom,independence and solitude, and several had experienced profoundsatisfaction through their careers.77The Experience of ConnectednessThe experience of nurturance, caring and intimacy wascentral to the lives of the women who participated in this study.Fundamentally, it represented their desire to be connected toothers and to express that aspect of self which desiredrelatedness and communion. These women portrayed qualities ofnurturing and caring and reinforced the value of intimaterelationships in creating a meaningful life structure. Theimportance of the experience of connectedness to others wascharacterized through the women's family ties, meaningfulintimate relationships, friendships and community.The desire to experience a connectedness to others was formost of the women in the study fulfilled by maintainingrelationships with their families of origin. Parents, andparticularly mothers, were frequently the recipients of nurturingand caring from their never-married daughters. In fact, all of thewomen in the study participated in the care-giver role with theirparents; a more or less significant role at different stages intheir life course. For example, following her parent's separation,Margaret found it especially important to support her"emotionally devastated mother" irrespective of their significantproximal distance and Margaret's need to be independent. Withgreat empathy, Margaret described her commitment to herrelationship with her mother:7879It has been really hard for her to see her family torn apart.So a part of me wants to just hang in there as much as I caneven though I am so mobile. That she's still got a daughterwho loves her . . . emotionally there is a lot of love there.All of the women in the study exhibited a bond with theirfamily members which for some derived from a sense of effortand obligation, and for others from love and the experience of selfas fundamentally nurturing. Whatever their motivation,maintaining family connections was a critical component of allthe women's lives.In addition to exploring their connections to familymembers, the women in the study also described the importanceof meaningful intimate relationships in their lives. Each womanconfirmed that she had been offered the opportunity for marriageor for a committed relationship with a significant other. Unlikemost women of their cohort however, these women expressedtheir love and commitment without choosing marriage.Additionally, involvement in intimate relationships containeddifferent meanings and consequences for each of the women inthe study. Whether the relationships were with men or withwomen all reinforced the importance of love and intimacy in theirlives, as reflected in the sentiments of Eva:You have to love yourself, but until somebody else loves youit is hard to love yourself. You might know that your familydoes but you need that conformation from another. I waslucky enough I suppose, to have met two wonderful men whodid that for me and that confirmed it.In addition to experiencing themselves as nurturing, caringand intimate in the context of relationships with family andsignificant others, the women in the study spoke highly of theimportant role friendships played in their lives. Several of thewomen were particularly conscious of the quality of theirfriendships, feeling that depth of sharing and mutual support wascentral in this sphere of relatedness. Linda, in the passage whichfollows, illustrates the nurturing and connected qualities many ofthe women cherished in their special relationships with womenfriends:We share common interests and we want the kind of jobsthat reach out to people, that can touch other people, andnot just are in our own little space. Those are the kind offriends that I have. They are all pretty real and we canshare on pretty deep levels and we can call each other whenwe are going through hard times.The significance of friendship shifted in importance atdifferent points in the life courses of these women. For example,as stated by Lorraine, friendship has taken on a particularlyimportant tone as she and her peers enter their later mid-lifetogether. While initially their paths diverged as marriage andchild-rearing encompassed the lives of many of her friends, atthe present time, with children grown and husbands divorced,80Lorraine finds herself sharing time with her schoolmates onceagain. She explained:Always have your friends. Your friends are so important. Weare getting a real network going as we get older. None of usreally wants to end up alone or sick so we are kinder toeach other. And I imagine it will be getting more so in thenext few years. It is very nice.The desire to be part of a community was also felt to offerthe women in the study a vital link to others and provide a senseof belonging. For these women community created the soughtafter continuity and relatedness so central to the nurturing coresthey identified within themselves. For example, Ambika explainedwith evident pride the thread of continuity she saw created byher work between the generations of her students and friends:I've stayed in the same community since 1942 . . . which allsounds terribly dull, but you see, I have taught the childrenof school chums, the children of kids I babysat and theirchildren practically, and taught children of my formerstudents.Whether through their work or where they selected to live, havinga sense of community was felt as important to all of the women,as expressed in Joan's words:I really enjoy the smaller community settings where youhave a sense of being known, of knowing your neighbor, ofbeing more supportive and more involved in more concrete81ways with what is happening in the community. What youbasically focus on is establishing intimate relationshipsand maintaining strong friendships . . . where you have agreater sense of flowing in and out of each others lives.The participants spoke of the importance of theirrelationships with family, intimate others, friends andcommunity members. The sense of connection, being nurtured byothers and nurturing others was a central component in creatingsatisfying life structures for all of the women in the study.The Experience of Fundamental AlonenessAnother highly dominant aspect revealed through thewomen's life narratives was their awareness of what it meant tofeel fundamentally alone. Among their shared descriptions wereself definitions as being solitary; the expressed desire for timealone; distinctions made between loneliness and solitude; and theimportance of knowing oneself as a means of coping successfullyin a essentially singular lifestyle.The women in the study, while possessing varied meaningfulrelationships, described the acute sense of feeling fundamentallyalone. The experience of viewing oneself as alone in the worldcontributed to the women's self-definitions, as characterized byLorraine who described herself as "solitary at the core of it." Thisrecognition of fundamental aloneness as a single woman was alsoillustrated by Joan in the passage which follows. She reflectedon the reality that with the eventual passing of parents, never-828 3married childless women are truly alone and at the "end of theline". She explained:If mom died we are an orphan. That is literally the feeling.Women who are mothers would not have such difficulty withlosing their mothers, whereas single daughters because ofnot being mothers themselves and not having the connectionwith children through future generations, when their motherdies they're adrift! I mean they are parentless.Another aspect of being alone - one the women often soughtout and that was consistent with their personalities - was theneed to have time alone with themselves to think, to read and toparticipate in any number of meaningful solitary activities.Several of the women described themselves as valuing theirsolitude even as children when they preferred to entertainthemselves alone rather than engaging in activities with otherchildren. This essential need to be alone was described byLorraine as possibly one of the reasons why she and other womenremained single well into their adult years. Reflecting thesentiments of the other women in the study she related that"sometimes I think I wouldn't have been very good at marriage asI do really require a fair amount of solitude".Many of the women emphasized the importance of takingtime for themselves as a measure of ensuring that their liveswere kept in balance. Amid time with family, friends and co-workers the women described the necessity of taking time for"self-regeneration", as Linda explained:(There was) not enough time alone. Understanding who I amwith my personality is that I do well with fairly longperiods alone. It relates to the space that I am in now, but Idon't need a lot of people to be happy. I have a fairly richinner life and lots to reflect on and can enjoy being alone.While the women in the study did speak about aloneness asit might be experienced as "loneliness", none of them felt thatthey spent very much time, if any, feeling lonely. When their livesweren't busy with relationships or careers, time alone wassavored rather than feared. For many the feeling of being aloneseemed to be an experience they had come to understand and werereconciled with. When reflecting on what living alone might belike in her later years, Margaret summarized the sentiments ofseveral of the women in the study when she explained herperception of the origins of loneliness:I rarely experience a sense of loneliness. I am verycomfortable being a loner. Loneliness for me is the feelingthat you are missing out on something that should be there.It is a way of imposing an expectation on yourself and canbe reflective of not satisfying your needs. So I am aware ofcontrolling what I want out of life.To Linda and several of the women, aloneness also meantlearning to know ourselves and what is good for us." The84experience of fundamental aloneness meant, to each of the womenin this study, the necessity of learning to live happily withthemselves, a reward that only came when each of the women hadtaken time for self-exploration and personal discovery. To Eva,for example, the experience of fundamental aloneness as a never-married woman translated into the importance of knowing herselfwhich she captured in the following words:Women have trouble being single because they don't knowhow to live with themselves. A lot of my married friendsare not happy in marriages and if they break up they get intoanother arrangement because they don't know how to live bythemselves. I really feel sorry for somebody that doesn'tknow themselves enough to be comfortable withthemselves.The stories of the women in this study illustrated thecentrality of aloneness to the women's definitions of self; thevalue they held for solitary time; the distinctions made betweenloneliness and feeling alone; and the importance of knowingoneself as a means towards feeling satisfaction in afundamentally singular lifestyle.The Experience of Influential Family Role ModelsThe participants in the study described the importance ofinfluential relationships in the development of their identitiesand in the formulation of their values and life goals. The women'spredominant references were to their relationships with their8586mothers, relationships with other female family members such assisters, grandmothers and "spinster" aunts, and theirrelationships with male family members.Several of the study participants had been raised in anenvironment where the influence of their mothers had been feltas particularly pronounced. For some, these mother/daughterrelationships were experienced as supportive, while for otherstheir relationships with their mothers were experienced as non-supportive. In either case, these relationships were a significantfactor in the choices the women made and the paths they chose tofollow.Women with positively experienced mother/daughterrelationships tended to portray their mothers in a favorable lightand generally regarded their mothers as exemplifying the valuesand life goals they personally strove to attain. For example, Eva, aparticipant who lived with her parents until age thirty and whoreturned home again to caretake years later, felt that her motherrepresented the "strength" and the "soul" of the family. Likeseveral of the women in the study, Eva remarked that her motherwas her "strongest mentor in a lot of ways." The women alsodescribed how their mothers had been positive role modelsinfluential in encouraging their independence and the developmentof their self-reliance. Relating this experience, Joan emphasizedhow her mother "never really held us back." She described theunconditional support she and her sister Linda received whichhelped them to define their life goals in personally meaningfulways:I appreciate my mother a great deal for her lack ofstructuring us to be a certain way. She believed that whatwas really important was the kind of character that we had. . . (not) whether we should be successful or married or highachievers.The negatively experienced relationships which occurredbetween some of these daughters and their mothers had theeffect of intensifying the participants' needs to attainindependence and differentiation from their mothers. Three of thewomen in the study described their mother/daughterrelationships as having been particularly difficult and negative.These mothers were described by the participants as "controllingand manipulative", "emotionally distant" and their relationshipsas "lacking in support and validation."The women in the study conveyed that their mother'sdissatisfaction with marital and family life influenced their ownperceptions regarding the lack of satisfaction inherent intraditional roles for women. For example, Ambika felt that hermother's character and perceptions altered her view of mendramatically, as she expressed in the following passage:My mother was a very unhappy person in her whole marriageexperience and she never had anything good to say about menand so that definitely impacted on me.87Female family members such as spinster aunts,grandmothers and sisters also represented a source of influenceand identification for several of the study participants. Asillustrated by Joan, the life choices of her ever-single auntunexpectedly served as a model for her own career success andlife satisfaction:I had an aunt who was also single who had made a career innursing. I quite admired her and thought that her world andexperiences, the places that she'd been and things that she'ddone were kind of appealing.Two of the participants in the study regarded the presenceof a maternal grandmother as having served as a powerfulinfluence and guide in the development of their identities,personal values and life directions. For example, Ambika fondlyrelated her experience of her grandmother:She was a very liberated lady. She was the first Avon lady Iever knew and very artistic . . . Grandmother was quite acharacter, she loved to tell jokes and was very sociable andI think she was probably a very intelligent person becauseshe had a pretty good education and she liked to read a lot,again, much to my mother's disgust.Linda described as one of her significant female familyinfluences, her sister Joan who participated in this study. Hernarrative is included here for the illustration it provides of the88role modeling and encouragement shared between the sisters inthis study:A role model had been my sister to a large degree .. .knowing that I have an older sister who is also single andhappy and she has made choices that seem right to her andshe is content with that, basically, has given me thefreedom to be able to do that too.For three of the women in the study the presence of malefamily figures (e.g., fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins) duringtheir early formative years appeared to have a particularlyimportant impact on the development of their self concepts andcontributed to the formation of their non-traditional values andlifestyles. Margaret's sentiments express the women'sexperiences of feeling more personally connected to their fathers:I was closer to my dad than to my mom. I had to do a lot ofseparating from my mom and it seemed to me that my dadwas the one who supported me in my life goals whether itwas career or university.Several of the women in the study also spoke of the lack oftheir father's involvement in "family matters" therebyquestioning the impact this may have had on their development.For Joan and Linda, the literal absence of their deceased fatherraised questions for them regarding their personal developmentand the evolution of their life structures. Joan's statement, whilemaking reference to a physically absent father, illustrated the89question raised by several of the women in the study. Shepondered:What meaning has it had in my life that I grew up without afather and that my life has been primarily influenced bystrong female figures?Through a recounting of their life stories the women in thestudy felt that the presence of influential relationships withtheir mothers, other female family members and male figures hadimpacted their self-definitions, personal values and life choices.These relationships served to model and at other times todissuade the women from adhering to particular life paths withthe outcome being one of satisfaction with a never-married lifestyle.The Experience of Self - RelianceThe women in the study defined themselves as self-reliantand described themselves as independent, self-sufficient,resourceful and ambitious. They expressed the need to experiencethemselves as self-reliant and also to be perceived by others ascapable of fulfilling their own needs. The women exhibited theirself-reliance through the attainment of higher education,sustained employment, property ownership and through livingalone.Without exception, the women in the study recognized thecritical nature of work toward the attainment of their self-reliance. Each of the participants held the expectation that they90would be required to financially provide for themselves (andpossibly for dependent parents) throughout their adult lives. Sixof the seven participants in the study completed post-secondaryeducation as a means of enhancing their opportunity for gainfulemployment. In the passage which follows, Joan, representativeof the other participants, explains how education and economicindependence became important goals in her life:My father had died very unexpectedly and left my mother asthe main income earner for our family. If she had not hadher teaching certificate she would have been adrift . . .because of that, the emphasis on education, having a career,options for stability and financial resourcefulness werereally important in our family.Confidence in their ability to generate an income meant thatfour of the seven women purchased their own residentialproperties. The women who owned their own homes unanimouslyagreed on the importance acquisition of property was to theirfeelings of independence and self-reliance. In reflecting on heradvice to other single women, Lorraine captured the sentimentsof most of the women in the study by saying:I would advise them to buy some property. I'd adviseanybody to do that. That has been one of the most powerfulthings in my life . . . it makes you independent.The women's stories also conveyed the belief that a womanwas not truly self-reliant, or at least would not appear as such to91others, until she lived alone. Most of the women in the study livedapart from their parents during their college and university yearsthereby, emphasizing the important role living alone contributedto their feelings of self-reliance. Even the older participantsbroke with tradition in setting out on their own. For example, Evawas finally able to leave home to travel at age thirty and Ambikalived with her mother until age thirty-five at which time shebought her first property. Like each of the participants, Ambikadescribed the critical importance of moving away from home:I bought my own place. I had had it with living at home .. . Ididn't want to get caught. I knew if I didn't move out now Iwould be stuck there forever.For several of the women the attainment of true self-reliance meant "learning to enjoy [their] own company" and"developing [their] own internal resources". Self-reliance wasviewed by the women as the ability to take care of themselvesand to create their own happiness, as expressed by Linda in thefollowing passage:Your life and your own happiness does not depend on anotherperson. You have no guarantees in that relationship. Youdon't know if the needs that you have now will be met. Ifyou are depending on that person to meet your needs I thinkthat you are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment.The women in the study seemed to possess an innerawareness of the importance of self-reliance in the attainment92of a full and satisfying life as a never-married women. Eva'scomments serve to illustrate the central components of this needfor self-reliance that was reflected in the experiences of all thewomen:Women need to have the awareness that they can sustainthemselves and they definitely have to be independent. Thatthey can create their own happiness - they can't count onsomebody else to create it for them. Your fulfillment has tocome from you and from your own achievements. It can't begenerated by other people because it won't work. You have tohave your own motivation.SummaryThe women participating in the study regarded themselvesas satisfied with their lives. The descriptions of their personaldevelopment, career progress and relationships with othersillustrated what a meaningful life structure can look like fornever-married childless women. The thematic groupings commonto all of the women illustrated five central self-perceptions. Thewomen regarded themselves as different and recognized theirnon-conformance to the traditional life roles attained by mostwomen. The participants, while experiencing close committedrelationships, also acknowledged their fundamental aloneness andthe value they placed on solitude. These never-married womenfelt they had been affected by significant familial relationshipswhich influenced them to structure their life paths in ways93uncharacteristic to most women. Finally, the desire to experiencethemselves as self-reliant and to be perceived as such by otherswas shared by all of the women who participated in this study.9 4CHAPTER FIVEDISCUSSIONIt was the purpose of this study to examine the personaldevelopment, relational and career experiences of never-marriedchildless mid-life women. The research question designed toguide the inquiry asked "How do never-married childless workingwomen in mid-life, who perceive themselves a being satisfiedwith their lives, experience their personal development, careerprogress and relationships with others?" In this chapter, anarrative profile representing a synopsis of the women'sexperiences will be presented. The common themes emerging fromthe participant's accounts will then be discussed as they relateto the existing literature on women's life cycle development,identity formation and career development. Finally, theimplications for counselling and future research will beconsidered.Profile of Never - Married Childless WomenThe seven women in this study grew up during a period whensocialization pressures reinforced the importance of family lifeand the roles of marriage and child rearing for women. Thewomen's families maintained the traditional structure of aworking father and homemaker mother in all but one instance,where the mother resumed employment due to her husband'sdeath. For some of the women family configurations also included95extended family wherein grandparents served to further reinforcetraditional value systems within the home. However, of thewomen in this study, only one anticipated that her life wouldlikely include marriage and children.When reflecting on their childhoods none of the womenemphasized having participated in female activities of play whichrevolved around the role-playing of marriage, keeping house andcaring for children. Instead, some of the women describedthemselves as more interested in traditionally male activitiesincluding outdoor recreational pursuits such as hockey and trackand field activities. They also described themselves as being of amore solitary nature thereby enjoying independent activities suchas reading and individually oriented sports. The women describedfeeling somewhat different from and not fitting in well withother female children their age.The women acknowledged having been influenced by eitherpositive or negative models which reinforced their desire toattain personal independence and self-reliance as primary lifegoals. Mothers were experienced as an important source ofinfluence on their daughters, as well as other significant familymembers such as grandmothers, fathers and ever-single aunts.These individuals served as primary role models of what thewomen did, and in some cases did not want to emulate.With late adolescence and the completion of high school athand, all of the women prepared themselves for entry into either96the work force or post-secondary education. One of theparticipants had been employed full-time since age fourteen andseveral had held summer jobs or shared in family choreresponsibilities from an early age. The women recognized thedivergence of their interests from that of most of the females oftheir age group who were focusing their attention predominantly,at that time, on dating and the attainment of male partners formarriage. As a result, the women expressed feeling different and,at times, isolated.Five of the women attained one or more post-secondarydegrees and one completed a college diploma. Education and/orcareer played a central role in the lives of each of the women inthe study, providing them with a source for both pleasure andpersonal accomplishment. The women all arrived at adulthoodwith the expectation that they would be required to provide fortheir own financial needs and as well, in some instances, for theneeds of their parents. Even though each of the women achievedeither a professional status or a noteworthy position within theirwork organizations, the women's involvement in their careers didnot however, appear to be more significant in their constructionof a meaningful life structure than their involvement in theimportant relationships in their lives.All of the women emphasized the centrality of relationshipsin creating a meaningful life structure. Differing only by degreesof involvement they each described a rich and varied network of97relationships which included immediate and extended family, co-workers, friends, intimate others and community members. Whileall of the women had meaningful intimate involvements, theychose to decline opportunities for marriage or long-termcommitted live-in relationships. The most common reason statedamong the women for being unmarried was that their singlestatus had just evolved; in no instance was the decision to remainsingle elected as a life choice. All of the women while statingunequivocally that they were satisfied with their singlelifestyles, were open to engaging in meaningful intimaterelationships. However, the exchange of marriage vows was notregarded by any of the participants as a requirement for intimacyor commitment.The women in this study defined themselves as self-sufficient, resourceful, and independent. While they valued theirrelationships with others they also cherished their privacy andsolitude. Recognizing themselves as single women in a societyoriented towards couples, marriage and families, the participantsnever-the-less denied regretting their decisions not to marry andfelt their lives were satisfying and fulfilling. Only one of thestudy participants, the eldest, expressed regret at not havingraised children.When the participants were asked to offer advice to womenwho were considering a single lifestyle the encouragement wasto "go for it". Among their recommendations for a satisfying98single life were the following: know yourself as a person,recognize and fulfill your own needs, find meaningful work,ensure your financial future, develop a network of meaningfulrelationships and maintain a positive outlook on life. The womenacknowledged these factors as instrumental in contributing tothe success and satisfaction of their own life structures asnever-married mid-life women.Discussion of the FindingsFive central themes were identified as common to each ofthe women participating in this research; the experience of selfas different, the experience of connectedness, the experience offundamental aloneness, the experience of family role models andthe experience of self-reliance. The available literature onwomen's identity formation, role development and career theory,when examined in conjunction with the common themes derivedfrom the narrative data of the study participants, revealed foursalient points of interest which will be used to guide thisdiscussion:1. The Relational Sense of Self2. The Need for Self Reliance3. The Mother/Daughter Relationship4. Coming to Terms with being Different99100The Relational Sense of SelfCurrent theories of women's development have emphasizedthe importance of women's relational sense of self to theiridentities and to the construction of their personal lives andcareers (Gilligan, 1980; 1982). Established in early life throughemotional connectedness to primary caregivers, the desire tofulfil nurturant qualities are thought to remain at the centralcore of a woman's identity throughout her adult life (Chodorow,1978). The women in this study exhibited nurturant and relationalqualities of self, not through the traditional roles of wife andmother, but rather via their involvement in "helping" careers andthrough the meaningful relationships they developed with theirfamilies and friends.Sheehy (1976) in her illustrative model of women's liferoles described never-married women as "paranurturers" and"office wives". The women in this study participated in teachingprofessions, religious roles, nursing careers and other servicerelated occupations, thereby confirming Sheehy's observations.While recognizing that career opportunities for women during the1950s and 1960s particularly, were more restricted to thehelping professions, the women in this study tended to remain intheir helping careers over time. Few of the women deviated farfrom their initial career choices claiming that they felt theirwork was satisfying. Several of the women described thegratification they received through their work and the close101relationships they had developed with patients, students, and co-workers. Some of the women continued their education so theycould refine their care-based skills and assist/support othersbetter. Hence, career was not pursued only out of economicnecessity but for it's ability to provide opportunity formeaningful interaction and continuity with others. Like thenever-married women in the survey of Baruch et al. (1985), thewomen in this study experienced work as important to theirfeelings of pleasure as well as to their experiences of mastery.The participants in this study placed particular importanceon the role friendships played in contributing to their lifesatisfaction. Consistent with the findings of Baruch and hercolleagues (1985) friendship appeared to be a central contributortoward pleasure and well-being among these never-marriedchildless women. The need for connectedness with others wasattained through "networks" (Baruch, et al., 1985) of friendships,or "multiple attachments" (Adams, 1976). Unlike theories ofwomen's development (Bardwick, 1980) which emphasize theimportance of "dyadic" relationships (wife-husband, mother-child) in women's lives, the never-married women in this studyfound satisfying alternatives for their relational needs. Adams(1976) proposed that the ability of never-married persons torelate flexibly and fluidly in such a manner suggests a greateradaptive ability than does the more ridged and narrow relationalroles of married persons.102For the never-married women in this study, friendshipswith others increased in importance as the women progressed intheir life cycles. Retaining meaningful friendships ensured thatthe process of aging was met with shared support, kindness andfreedom from fear of isolation. The women in this studyacknowledged the value they placed on the thoughtfulness of theirfriends during times of sickness and celebration. This finding wasconsistent with that of Simon (1987) who claimed that for thenever-married women in her study, the role of friends appearedintegral to the women at all stages of adult life, growing inimportance with retirement and later life. The need for never-married (and possibly other) women to remain connected tofriends and/or siblings as they enter later life is not currentlyacknowledged in models of women's life span development. Hereagain, the assumption has been that women will rely on spousesand children for life-long relational support.The concept of a relational sense of self proffered bytheorists of women's development appeared central to the self-concepts and life structures of the never-married women in thisstudy. They particularly found avenues for the expression of theirnurturant capacities through their careers and through networksof meaningful friendships.The Need for Self RelianceAdams (1976), in her description of the essential featuresof the single personality and status, identified social103independence, psychological self-sufficiency and personalintegrity as central elements in the characters of those havingchosen the unmarried lifestyle. The never-married women in thisstudy similarly, defined themselves as independent, self-sufficient, resourceful and ambitious. The women's confidence intheir ability to meet their own needs appeared to be central totheir self-concepts and to their perceptions of possessing lifesatisfaction. This need for self-reliance was characterizedprimarily by their involvement in career, through their ability tosustain themselves financially, and by their capacity to createmeaningful friendships and to deal successfully with solitude andloneliness.Baruch et al. (1985) identified mastery as a key componentcontributing to the well-being of the never-married childlesswomen in their study. The researchers described mastery as"strongly related to the doing side of life" (p. 33) which isfrequently associated with career. The never-married childlesswomen in Baruch et al.'s study were all employed and were thebest educated women in their sample. The researchers regardedmastery as the ability of women to fulfill their own needs, as theavenue to self-esteem and a central component in ensuringfreedom from depression and anxiety. The never-marriedchildless women in Baruch et al.'s study possessed the highestmastery scores among all of the participant groups suggestingthat for these women career was of central importance. While104levels of mastery were not evaluated in this research,similarities appear to exist between Baruch et al.'s never-married childless women and the participants of this study. Thethesis participants were also well educated and all engaged inwork/career. Employment appeared to play an important role inthe lives the participants in this study by affording them theopportunity be involved in meaningful activities, by providing anavenue through which they could ensure their financial well-beingand by confirming the women's competence in roles other thanthose traditionally ascribed to women. Unlike the never-marriedchildless women who participated in Baruch et al.'s study,however, none of the women in this study claimed to have soughtout "high level jobs" as a means of ensuring their feelings ofwell-being, and none appeared to be interested in achieving"traditional" career success (Crites, 1969; Super, 1977, Levinson,1978). Instead, employment ensured the women in this study thatthey could take care of their own financial needs, a findingconsistent with the values of Simon's (1987) participants.Furthermore, it appeared that the never-married childless womenin this study sought a balance in their lives between the need forachievement and mastery and the need for nurturance andaffiliation. Theories regarding the career development of womendo not at the present time acknowledge the co-existence ofwomen's affiliative and achievement needs, nor the diverse meansthrough which these needs may be attained.105Finally, self-reliance was characterized by the women inthis study through their ability to deal successfully with solitudeand loneliness in their lives. Consistent with the findings ofAdams' (1976) participants who appeared to "have a specialappreciation of, and need for, solitude" (p. 87), the women in thisstudy similarly identified needing time to be alone. Furthermore,the ability to constantly confront and mobilize their resources todeal with predictable loneliness is perhaps illustrative of the"psychological autonomy" attributed by Adams to the persons inher study.In summary, the need for self-reliance was evidenced ascentral to the lives of the never-married childless women in thisstudy. Personality characteristics such as independence and self-sufficiency attributed to the ever-single women in Adams' (1976)study appeared to be consistent with qualities exhibited by thethesis study participants. The ever-single women described byBaruch, et al. (1985) and the women in this study both placedimportance on the roles of education and career toward ensuringtheir well-being and self-reliance. However, the never-marriedwomen in this study denied being motivated to attain "high-level"career positions, and instead appeared to desire a life balancebetween career and relationship needs. Finally, like the women inAdams' (1976) study the never-married women in this studyappreciated solitude and regarded their ability to deal withloneliness as important to their attainment of self-reliance.106The Mother/Daughter RelationshipChodorow (1978), Eichenbaum and Orbach (1983) and others,emphasized the importance of the mother/daughter relationshipin the development of a woman's sense of self. Because mothersand daughters are the same gender, the daughter is believed to notseparate completely from the mother with whom she identifiesand loves. The identification process results in the formulation offluid ego boundaries in women that allow them to remain moreconnected to others. Intense emotional relatedness from the earlystages of female development, these theorists propose, ensuresthat daughters and mothers continue to share an emotional bondinto their adult years.The women in this study described the central roles theirmothers played in their lives. At times the women's relationshipswith their mothers were experienced harmoniously, in whichinstances the mothers often became sources of positive guidanceand role models to emulate. For other women in the study, theirrelationships with their mothers were experienced as negativeand non-supportive thereby causing these women to activelyselect options which moved them further away from theirmothers emotionally, psychologically and physically, and in termsof their elected life paths.Some of the women in the study described the difficultrelationships they continued to experience with their elderlymothers. The stories they related conveyed the discomfort and107frustration these women felt due to their inability to remainindependent from their mothers' powerful emotional hold. Hence,for some of the women "self-differentiation" or the ability to seethe self as separate and capable of operating independently fromtheir mothers (Mahler, Pine & Bergman, 1975) appeared to haveremained on some level, incomplete. This finding may bereflective of Kaplan's (1986) hypothesis which suggested thatproblems in development may derive due to women's difficulty inremaining connected to others while asserting a differentiated,distinct self-concept.Further evidence of the mother/daughter connectiondisplayed by the study participants was the caretaking role eachof the women participated in with their mothers at various pointsin their lives. For some of the women caretaking their motherswas regarded as "a way of giving back" what they had receivedand valued in their own early nurturant experiences with theirprimary caregivers. Others described the caregiving experience asfraught with resentment and ambivalence. Bardwick (1980), inher portrait of women's life phases suggests that "at age 50 andolder" some women turn their attention to caring for their elderlyparents. For the never-married women in this study, assumingresponsibility for parents generally began much earlier in life.The women felt that this may have been due to the belief amongsome family members that as single women, without the108responsibilities of husbands and children, they were likely moreavailable for care-giving roles.In summary, the mother/daughter relationships described bythe participants in this study appeared to play an important rolein the development of the women's identities and their life pathoutcomes. These findings, plus the women's relational qualitiesof self appear to be consistent with contemporary researchfindings by Chodorow (1978), Eichenbaum and Orbach (1983) andothers which emphasized the centrality of the mother/daughterrelationship in the determination of women's self-concepts andlife roles.Coming to Terms with Being DifferentThe never-married women in this study describedthemselves as did those in Baruch et al.'s (1985) research as"feeling different" and "out of step" with others. As children andadolescents the women felt they didn't fit in with their peers,and frequently expressed little interest in the stereotypicallyfeminine activities of childhood play. As they entered adulthooddivergence in terms of "normative" female developmentalbehavior, as described in Bardwick's (1980) model becameexceedingly apparent, leaving the women feeling, at times, oddand isolated. A review of Bardwick's (1980) developmental phasesfor women illustrates the numerous ways in which the never-married childless women in this study deviated from the "norm"109thereby challenging them to come to terms with theirdifferentness at various phases during their life courses.Bardwick (1980) described women's "early adult years" (age17 to 28) as the phase during which women focused on theattainment of marriage or a life-long committed relationship.Contrary to this experience, the never-married women in thestudy reported that by late adolescence they had recognized andaccepted that their lives would not be guided by the attainment ofa marriage partner or a committed relationship. These womenacknowledged that their priority was to find employment and/orto engage in further education as a means of ensuring their futureeconomic viability. By the age of twenty-eight (Bardwick'sparameter), six of the women in the study had already committedto full-time employment. During this phase of development,recognizing their divergence from the trend toward marriage, thenever-married women in this study dealt with their differentnessby turning their attentions to education, career, the cultivation ofathletic prowess and the development of friendships with otherswith whom they could relate.The "settling down period" (age 30 to 40) described byBardwick (1980) identified the period during which womenengaged in their need to raise a family. The "middle adulthood"phase (age 40 to 50) demonstrated the period when womengenerally began to consider developing a career. Once again,inconsistent with Bardwick's theory, the never-married women in11 0the study, by age thirty, had clearly identified and committed totheir career paths and by age forty, most were well establishedin their chosen professions. Dealing with differentness duringthis stage of the life cycle found one woman in the study involvedin eight years of continuous world travel. Other women wereadvancing careers and moving to different communities wherethey hoped their alternative life style choices would be morereadily accepted.Finally, Bardwick's (1980) model described that "age 50 andolder" could be a time of significant career accomplishment forsome women and was also a time of tending to the life issues ofretirement, menopause, parental care and death. The lives of thenever-married women in this study were more consistent withBardwick's speculations for this life phase than for the othersreviewed. For example, the careers of the women in this studyhad, in fact, shown evidence of fruition. Two of the women hadretired and one would retire within the coming year. Those womenhaving reached the age of 50 had encountered menopause.However, as for engaging in parental care, the never-marriedwomen in this study initially engaged in such caretakingresponsibilities during middle adulthood or earlier, and continuedthis care, if their parents were still alive, into this later lifeperiod. By this phase of life many of the women in this studyappeared to have come to terms with their differentness, and111changing social values had become somewhat more accepting ofwomen who had elected divergent lifestyles.Finally, while the women in this study acknowledged feeling"out of step" and "different" from other women they alsoemphasized that they were indeed satisfied with their lives.Consistent with the never-married childless women in Baruch etal.'s (1985) study, the thesis participants, by having come toterms with their feelings of being different, appeared to bewhere they wanted to be in their lives. Hence, acceptance of andappreciation for their single, childless status seemed to havecontributed to their feelings of life satisfaction and well-being.In summary, the lives of the never-married childless womenparticipating in this study showed significant divergence fromthe phase theory developed by Bardwick (1980) currently regardedas illustrative of women's normative development. These women,perhaps due to their unique qualities of character (independence,self-reliance, etc.), found creative ways of dealing with theirfeelings of being different at various phases in their lives. All ofthe women, having described themselves as satisfied with theirlives, illustrated that, at least to some degree, they had in factcome to terms with their feelings of being different.In conclusion, the findings of this study demonstrate thatwith little exception, existing models of women's life spandevelopment (e.g. Bardwick, 1980) do not adequately account forthe life experiences of the never-married childless women in this112study. Theories of women's identity formation emphasizing therelational concept of self, seem to have greater application to thenever-married childless women described in this study. Finally,current conceptualizations of career development appear not tobe representative of the experiences of the never-married womenin this study. While these women did exhibit a more sustainedinvolvement in their career much like the male models of careerpropose (Super, 1977), the participants expressed havingdifferent career aspirations; high-level career achievement wasnot a motivating factor for these women as it tends to be forcareer focused men. Hence, the model developed by Astin (1984)may better illustrate the experiences of the never-marriedchildless women in this study.In this study the researcher examined the personaldevelopment, work and relational experiences of never-marriedchildless women in mid-life who regarded themselves assatisfied with their lives. She endeavored to reveal how thesewomen find meaning in a life structure that is so different fromthe life roles selected by most of the women in North Americanculture. She aimed to give never-married women the opportunityto contribute their "voices", perspectives and experiences to thegrowing body of research on women's life and career development.It is hoped that the descriptive findings will further sensitizeother researchers and practitioners to the experiences and needsof this particular group of women.1 13Implications for Future ResearchThe body of research on never-married childless women inmid-life illustrated that knowledge regarding this group, at thepresent time, is significantly limited. While disappointing, thisfact is equally exciting as it indicates the unlimited possibilitiesfor research which will advance our understanding of the lives ofthese women.In this study the researcher examined the lives of never-married childless women in mid-life who regarded themselves assatisfied with their lives. The researcher's intention to studysatisfied women was prompted by the desire to offer analternative view of this frequently stigmatized and marginalizedsegment of society. In this way, she endeavored to dispel themyths which tend to surround women who have forfeitedtraditional nurturing roles. Future research might examine thelives of never-married childless women who are not satisfiedwith their lives , as well as the influencial factors. Comparisonsbetween the life structures of satisfied and unsatisfied never-married childless women may permit researchers to more clearlyidentify the elements which appear to be central toward theconstruction of a satisfying life style for this group of women.The study undertaken explored the experiences of never-married childless women in mid-life. It was believed that thesewomen would offer a particular perspective on the single andchildless life status because mid-life women have essentially114passed the age during which most women choose to marry andraise a family. While the mid-life vantage point offered a uniqueperspective to this study, further research might be undertakenwith other age groups of never-married women. For example, thisresearch study revealed the centrality of friendships in the lifestructures of never-married women in mid-life. It might beilluminating, for example, to discover the salience of friendshipfor never-married childless women as they enter later life.Alternatively, researchers might explore the centrality offriendships in the lives of never-married women across the lifespan.Additionally, the participants in this study reflected theexperiences of a particular historical cohort. These women, bornbetween 1932 and 1952, were raised during an era whentraditional roles were still the norm for most women. Althoughonly the youngest participant directly acknowledged the impactof feminism on her life choices, the feminist movement had,never-the-less, begun to make educational and employmentopportunities more accessible to this cohort of women. Hence, thefindings of this research are recognized as having taken placewithin a unique economic climate. The women in this study werehomogeneous in that they were all able to attain financial self-reliance and life satisfaction. Should this study take place with adifferent cohort of women, the findings may be different inimportant ways due to the prevailing economic and social115climates, and their impact on the creation of a meaningful lifestructure.The never-married childless women in this study describedtheir single status as having "evolved". These women related nothaving made deliberate decisions to remain single as a part of alarger life plan and all felt that they would be open to long-termcommitted relationships in the future. Further research mightproceed by examining the life structures of women who have"deliberately" chosen to not engage in the traditionally sanctionedfeminine roles of wife and mother. Where as each of the women inthis study expressed a preference for engaging in an intimaterelationship, all but one of the women claimed that they did notexperience any deep longing to raise children. In fact, the womenin this study may have been unique in their lack of emphasis onthe subject of children during the interviews. Future researchmight explore the life structures of never-married childlesswomen who maintain a preference for being married and raisingchildren. Yet another study might examine mid-life women, forexample, who have elected parenting roles while deliberately notengaging in marriage.Finally, this research, utilizing an in-depth qualitativeinterview methodology, examined the lives of seven never-married women. The inclusion of a larger number of participantsand further refinement of themes may offer deeper insights into1 1 6the lives of this group of women, and/or may confirm the findingsand contribute to the development of theory in this area.Implications for CounsellingAs a practitioner specializing in counselling and therapywith women, the opportunity to conduct this research wasespecially rewarding. Never-married childless women, by virtueof their gender, share experiences common to the lives of manywomen. However, their unique life structures, values,perspectives and experiences enabled me to recognize that thesewomen require their counsellors to possess an added awarenessof the issues salient to never-married childless women. Such anawareness would allow helping professionals to more effectivelysupport never-married childless women with their particular lifechallenges and needs.The never-married childless women in this study did notconform to the traditional life paths and roles ascribed to bymost women. As the discussion section illustrated, these womendealt with different life issues at different points in their lifecourses than did more traditionally oriented women. Hence theneeds of never-married women can vary quite dramatically fromwomen conforming to the roles of mother and wife. In spite of thefact that the women in this study regarded themselves assatisfied with their lives, several had called upon the support ofcounselling professionals at various times. These never-marriedwomen described dealing with issues of work-related stress and117relational problems. These issues took on a different meaninggiven the unique nature of these women's work lives and thediffering structure of their relationships.As counsellors we may find ourselves called upon to supportyounger women who are considering the never-married childlesslifestyle. Honest exploration of alternatives and theirconsequences relies on our ability to recognize our own biasesand negative beliefs regarding the never-married childlesslifestyle. Younger women may also be grappling with theirfeelings of being different or struggling with familial and socialpressures which are demanding them to conform. Helping youngwomen to adjust to a lifestyle they may or may not be equipped toenter successfully will require that we understand theexperiences of other never-married childless women who havesuccessfully negotiated this path before.Never-married childless women in mid-life can findthemselves called upon to participate in caretaking roles. Thisadded responsibility, as was evidenced by the women in thisstudy, may result in the need for counselling support. Never-married childless women are frequently expected to provideparental care because they do not have the responsibilities ofmanaging a family home. Hence, the common perception may bethat they must have a lot of available time. Although some womendo take on the support of parents willingly, it can mean that analready taxing career or busy personal life becomes neglected.118Feelings of resentment or the possibility of emotional andphysical "burnout" were outcomes the women in this studydescribed having experienced. Counsellors providing support tomid-life never-married childless woman may therefore benefitfrom an understanding of the factors involved in maintaining lifebalance for women of this group.Never-married childless women in early mid-life may befacing the "final" decision regarding whether to parent a child orto forfeit the opportunity. While the option to engage in acommitted relationship without marriage remains available towomen at every stage of life, the ability to bear children becomeslimited with age. Raising a child without marriage has become aviable alternative for many women today, however, it may beaccompanied by economic and social challenges. The counsellor ofnever-married women considering single parenting should beprepared to openly examine options and obstacles, and to alsosupport the informed decision to parent among ever-singlewomen.Never-married childless women in later-life are inevitablyfaced with different life challenges. Due to the centrality ofrelationships in their lives a counsellor can almost be assuredthat later-life women will be faced with the difficulty ofmaintaining or loosening relational connections with family andfriends. As one participant stated, never-married women are "theend of the line". With the death of parents and mothers119particularly, never-married childless women may need supportthrough a particularly difficult and unique grieving process. Theloss of friends who have been central to the life structures ofsuch women may also be experienced as particularly traumatic.In summary, the life paths of the never-married childlesswomen in this study were described as having "just evolved". Suchan evolution is certain to be full of challenges and questionsgiven that the never-married childless status is, at this time, notwell understood or accepted as a meaningful life path for women.As counsellors we can, by increasing our awareness, assistnever-married childless women to further value their elected lifestyles and perhaps find increased life satisfaction.REFERENCESAdams, M. (1976). Single blessedness. Harmondsworth, UK:Penguin Books.Astin, H. (1984). The meaning of work in women's lives: Asociopsychological model of career choice and workbehavior. The Counselling Psychologist, 12, 117-126.Bardwick, J. (1980). The season's of a woman's life. In D.McGuigan (Ed.), Woman's lives: New theory, research and policy. Ann Arbour: University of Michigan, Center for theContinuing Education of Women.Baruch, G., Barnett, R., & Rivers, C. (1985). Life prints: Newpatterns of life and love for today's women. 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King (Eds.),Existential-phenomenological alternatives forpsycholoay.(p. 48-71). New York: Oxford University Press.Crites, J. (1969). Vocational psychology. New York: McGraw Hill.Dean, A. & Lin, N. (1977). The stress-buffering role of socialsupport. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 165,403-417.Diamond, E. (1987). Theories of career development and thereality of women at work. In B. Gutek & L. Larwood (Eds.)Women's career development (p. 15-27). London, UK: SAGEPublications, Inc.Eichenbaum, L. & Orbach, S. (1983). Understanding women: Afeminist psychoanalytic approach. New York: Viking.Eichenbaum, L. & Orbach, S. (1988). Between women. New York:Viking.Erikson, E. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: NortonErikson, E. (1956). The problem of ego identity. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Institute,  4, 56-121.Erikson, E. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: W. W.Norton.122Faver, C. (1984). Women in transition: Career. family, and lifesatisfaction in three cohorts. New York: Praeger Publishers.Fitzgerald, L. & Crites, J. (1980). Toward a theory of careerpsychology for women: What do we know? what do we needto know? Journal of Counselling Psychology, al, 44-62.Freedman, J. (1978). Happy people. New York: Ballantine Books.Gallos, J. (1989). Exploring women's development: Implicationsfor career theory, practice, and research. In M. Arthur, D.Hall & B. Lawrence (Eds.), Handbook of career theory.(p.110-132). New York: Cambridge University Press.Giele, J. (1982). Women's work and family roles. In J. Giele (Ed.),Women in the middle years (p. 115-150). New York: Wiley.Gigy, L. (1980). Self-concept and the single women. Psychology ofWomen Quarterly, 5, 321-340Gilbert, L. (1984). Comments on the meaning of work in women'slives. The Counselling Psychologist, 12, p. 129-130.Gilligan, C. (1977). In a different voice: Women's conception ofself and of morality. Harvard Education Review, 47, 481-517.Gilligan, C. (1980). Restoring the missing text of women'sdevelopment to life cycle theories. In D. McGuigan(Ed.),Women's lives: New theory, research and policy. AnnArbour: University of Michigan, Center for ContinuingEducation of Women.Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women's development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.123Giorgi, A. (1985). Phenomenology and psychological research. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.Gutek, B. & Larwood, L. (1987). Women's careers are important anddifferent. In B. Gutek & L. Larwood (Eds.) Women's careerdevelopment (p. 7-14). London, UK: SAGE Publications, Inc.Hare-Mustin, R. & Marecek, J. (1988). The meaning of difference:Gender, theory, postmodernism and psychology. American Psychologist, Lig, 455-464.Holland, H. (Ed.) (1949). Why are you single? New York: FarrarStrauss & Company.Jordan, J. & Surrey, J. (1986) The self-in-relation: Empathy andthe mother-daughter relationship. In T. Bernay & D. Cantor(Eds.), The psychology of today's woman: New psychoanalyticvision (p. 81-104). Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.Josselson, R. (1987). Finding herself: Pathways to identitydevelopment in women. London, UK: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Kaplan, A. (1986). The "self-in-relation": Implications fordepression in women. Psychotherapy: Theory. research andpractise, La, 234-242.Kaplan, A. & Klein, R. (1985). The relational self in lateadolescent women. Work in Progress. Wellesley, MA: StoneCenter Working Paper Series.Kaplan, A. & Surrey, J. (1984). The relational self in women:Developmental theory and public policy. In E. Walker (Ed.),Women and mental health policy (p. 79-94). Beverly Hills,CA: Sage.Leafgren, F. (1990). Men on a journey. In D. Moore & F. Leafgren(Eds.), Problem solving strategies and interventions for men124in conflict (p. 3-10). Alexandria, VA: American Associationfor Counseling and Development.Lerner, H. (1988). Women in therapy. Northvale, NJ: Aronson.Levinson, D. (1978). The seasons of a man's life. New York: Knopf.Loewenstein, S., Bloch, N., Campion, J., Epstein, J., Gale, P. &Salvatore, M. (1981). A study of satisfaction and stresses ofsingle women of mid-life. Sex Roles, 7, 1127-1141.McClelland, D. (1975). Power: The inner experience. New York:Irvington.Mahler, M. Pine, F. & Bergman, A. (1975). The psychological birth of the human infant. New York: Basic Books.Marcia, J. (1966). Development and validation of ego identitystatus. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1.551-558.Mednick, M. (1989). On the politics of psychological constructs:Stop the bandwagon, I want to get off. AmericanPsychologist, 44, 1118-1123.Miller, J. (1976). Toward a new psychology of women. Boston:Beacon.Miller, J. (1984).The development of women's sense of self.  Workin progress. Wellesley, MA: Stone Center Working PaperSeries.Osborne, J. (1990). Some basic existential-phenomenologicalresearch methodology for counsellors. Canadian Journal ofCounselling, al, 79-91.Osipow, S. (1983). Theories of career development. EnglewoodCliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Pearlin, L. & Johnson, J. (1977). Marital status, life strains, anddepression. American Sociological Review, 42, 704-715.Perry, W. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical developmental in the college years. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Richardson, L. (1985). The new other woman: Single women inaffairs with married men. New York: Free Press.Rossi, A. (1980). Work and love: The crucial balance. New York:Harmony.Sheehy, G. (1976). Passages: The predictable crises of adult life.New York: Dutton & Co.Simon, B. (1987). Never married women. Philadelphia, PA:Templeton University Press.Skovholt, T. (1990). Career themes in counseling andpsychotherapy with men. In D. Moore & F. Leafgren (Eds.),Problem solving strategies and interventions for men in conflict.(p. 39-53). Alexandria, VA: American Associationfor Counseling and Development.Spreitzer, E. & Riley, L. (1974). Factors associated withsinglehood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 36, 533-542.Stein, P. (1981). Unmarried life: Unmarried adults in social context. New York: St. Martin's Press.Super, D. (1977). Vocational maturity in mid-career. VocationalGuidance Quarterly, 25, 294-302.125126Surrey, J. (1984). The self-in-relation. Work in progress.Wellesley, MA: Stone Center Working Paper Series.Verhoff, J., Douvan, E., & Kulka R. (1981). The inner American: Selfportrait from 1957 to 1976. New York: Basic Books.Ward, R. (1979). The never-married in later life. Journal ofGerontology,^, 861-69.Warheit, G. Holzer, C. Bell, R. & Arey, S. (1976). Sex, maritalstatus and mental health: A reappraisal. Social Forces, 5a,459-470.Women's Bureau Labour Canada (1990).Women in the labour force.Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada.127Appendix AA Study ExploringNever-marriedChildless Women & CareersMany women today, either by choice or by chance, areliving satisfying lives as single childless women. Atpresent, little is known about this increasingly popularlife style. In an effort to set aside the myths andstereotypes of past generations and to aid in developingcareer theory which supports the lives and careers ofwomen choosing this lifestyle, a unique research study istaking place.You can contribute . . .. . . . if you are a single childless woman who has never beenmarried - are not presently living with a partner in an intimaterelationship - are between the ages of 39 and 60 years - and feelsatisfied with your life.Participating in this study involves . . .. . . . discussing with a female researcher how you feel yourexperience as a never-married childless working woman isrelated to your career development and progress, your personaldevelopment and your relationships with others.The study is completely confidential and would requireapproximately two hours of your time on two separate occasions.The results of the study will be shared with you upon completion.If you, or someone you know, would like to participate in thisstudy or would like further information regarding this research,please call me at the following numbers.Barbara Borycki - Counselling Psychology (Candidate)(H) 737-7037 or (W) 666-0163Appendix BRecruitment Notice - AdvertisementNever-Married Childless Women's StudyResearch participants needed. Aged 39 to 60 years and satisfiedwith your life. Call Barbara Borycki, Counselling Psychology at737-7037 or 666-0163.128Appendix CConsent FormA Masters Thesis research study on theCareer & Personal Developmentof Never-Married, Childless WomenDescription of the Research: The investigator will meet with you on two separateoccasions for a total of approximately four hours, for the purposeof hearing and documenting your perceptions of how remainingsingle and childless has impacted upon your career developmentand progress, your personal development and relationships withothers.Each meeting will be audio-taped and the resultstranscribed. All identifying information will be deleted from thestudy, and your name changed as a means of ensuring absoluteconfidentiality. You may wish to offer a pseudonym for your ownname to be used in any oral or written accounts of the material.Upon completion of the transcription you will be contacted andasked to read the description and to indicate, if upon reflection,it accurately portrays your perceptions of your career andpersonal experiences. Any concerns or disagreements you haveregarding the material will be taken into account and allnecessary adjustments made. All audio tapes will be erasedfollowing transcription and at no time will any identifying129130information be made available to anyone other than theinvestigator and her research supervisor.If any aspect of the outlined procedures remains unclear,you are encouraged to contact me at 737-7037, or to call myresearch supervisor, Dr. Judith Daniluk at 822-5768. This study iscompletely voluntary and if at any time you wish to withdrawfrom the study your right to do so will be respected.I,^ , agree toparticipate in the study described under the conditions outlinedand acknowledge receipt of a copy of this consent form. I may bereached at the following address and phone number:Pseudonym requestedDateInvestigator: Barbara Borycki, B.A.Department of Counselling PsychologyFaculty of Education, U.of B.C.737-7037 (Res) or 666-0163 (Bus)131Appendix DOrienting statements: Before we begin the interview I would like to give you somebackground on this research study so you will have a sense ofwhat kinds of things I am particularly interested in learningabout you and your life as a never-married, childless woman.For the most part, women today have a greater range of options orlife roles available to them than ever before - they can choose towork, to marry, to have children, to remain single or toparticipate in any combination of these roles at various points intheir lives. Never-the-less, in our culture, the vast majority ofwomen marry and raise children, and increasingly, most remain inor return to work.Research studies have helped us to learn a great deal aboutwomen's natural development and about how their lives andcareers unfold. However, because the majority of women assumethe traditional roles of wife and mother, these women have beenstudied most frequently, and it is these women that we knowmost about.Very few studies have looked at the lives of women who areunmarried and childless, so consequently we know very littleabout how their life-styles have evolved, what is important or1 32meaningful to them, or about their careers, relationships withothers and their personal development.In this study I'm hoping to learn about how never-marriedchildless women experience and view their careers, theirrelationships and their personal development. Or, to phrase itanother way, I'm asking the question: How do never-marriedchildless women experience their career progress, their personaldevelopment and their relationships with others?Does my question sound clear to you? Is there anything you wouldlike to ask?Keeping these three themes in mind - career, relationships andpersonal development - I would like you to tell me a bit aboutyourself and your lifestyle. Sometimes people find it easier totalk about themselves "like a story" - with a beginning, a middleand an end. Would this be a comfortable way for you?Appendix ESample Questions1) Most women of your generation were raised with theexpectation that they would marry and have children, perhapsworking periodically during that time. How might this be similaror different to the expectations you and your family had for youas you were growing up?2) How did your childless single life-style evolve? At what agedid you first consider yourself as a woman who might remainsingle? Childless?3) Would you tell me about your work as a ^? When youlook at your whole life, how important or central is your work toyou and to your feelings of satisfaction? How do you see youmarital and parental status as affecting your career satisfactionand progress?4) Could you tell me something about the important people orrelationships in your life? When you look at your whole life, howimportant or central are relationships to you and to your feelingsof satisfaction? How do you see you marital and parental statusas affecting your relationships with other people?5) What suggestions might you have to give to younger womenwho may choose to remain unmarried and childless?133


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