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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Women’s Resources Centre - 1974 James, Alice

Abstract

The Women's Resources Centre of the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of British Columbia provides programs and services to assist women in life planning. This study Investigated these programs and services in order to gain insight into the process of adopting a life style more broadly based in the community. A fifty per cent random sample of the women who came to this centre for short courses from February to April 1974 and a fifty per cent random sample of women who came for individual counselling in January 1974 were selected for this study. The investigation used the open-ended probing interview to gain greater understanding of the total life situation of these women. The study found considerable evidence that women under forty felt pressure to adopt two different life styles under conditions where these life styles were mutually exclusive. This was reflected in the prevalence of reporting of anxiety, frustration, muscular tension and illnesses such as myasthenia gravis. The highest incidence of illness was amongst women who had no children. There was a heavy incidence of both childbearing and marriage breakup between the ages of thirty and thirty-four. Housewives over the age of forty also felt pressure to change to a career oriented life style but were without the knowledge, means or opportunity to do this successfully. For these women life planning became a process of identifying a series of conflicting pressures and making a decision as to whether to break a paired role relationship or to use persuasion to reduce this conflict. Decisions were made on the basis of their evaluation of the interaction of several factors: the necessity to maintain a role which provided the necessities of life, e.g. housewife, employed worker, self-employed worker or welfare recipient; the degree of urgency involved in dealing with the erosion of physical and mental health; the recognition of the time factor in the changing of attitudes; their skill in effecting attitude change; and their ability to move into more varied forms of physical activity to slow down the erosion of physical and mental health. The study concluded that communication beyond the immediate family is an important factor in making good decisions and that making changes in life style is a stressful and time consuming process. This study also made recommendations to adult educators directed towards making the process of adoption of a different life style less stressful.

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