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Life role aspirations of high ability female undergraduates McBain, Laura-Lynne


This study used a biodemographical questionnaire and a variant of Kelly's (1955) repertory grid technique to examine the life role aspirations (career, home and family, and personal) of a group of high ability women and to describe how their role perceptions and expectations seemed to influence their career aspirations. All subjects were of similar high academic standing (72% average or above) and were either in the final year of the Bachelor of Commerce Program at the University of British Columbia or in first year Law (combined Commerce/Law Option). Twenty-nine subjects met with the researcher in small groups to complete the questionnaires. Each subject provided biodemographical data, including information about her projected five-year plans for paid employment, graduate or professional school, relationship style/marital status, and children. In addition, each subject completed a 12 x 12 role grid while imagining herself in each of 12 different roles during the subsequent five years of her life. Twelve roles and 12 constructs (considerations judged to be important influencing factors in the life role aspirations of women) were rank ordered in terms of personal preference and importance. Then, each of the 12 roles was rated according to each of the 12 constructs. Group results were reported and described on a number of dimensions, including level and type of career aspirations, preference and preferability ranks of roles, importance and centrality ranks of constructs, overall level of conflict, conflict between constructs, and conflict between roles. The main finding was that all the women in the group were aspiring to relatively high level full-time careers in business or law for the next five year period of their lives. Their most preferred roles were professional roles. They appeared to be most strongly motivated by a desire for personal growth, which they seemed to construe mainly in terms of achievement. On the whole, they seemed to be a group of confident and independent women who were conflict-free in their attitudes toward their projected life roles. The results of this study are useful to counsellors and educators of high ability women who are seeking to combine multiple roles in a manner which allows for maximum development of potential.

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