UBC Theses and Dissertations
Mature women students : a survey Frederickson, Margaret C.
The purpose of this study was to contribute to an understanding of the experience of mature women students who succeeded in completing degrees and diplomas at The University of British Columbia in 1968. Special attention was directed to academic and professional choices, timing of interruptions in formal education, and conflicts experienced by the women as they resumed their studies. Responses to a mail questionnaire were received from 228 women who were 25 years of age or over in 1968 when they completed their degrees or diplomas. The most typical respondent came from relatively favourable socio-economic circumstances, had previous university experience, and returned to formal studies after brief interruption. A small number had returned to studies under difficult conditions, usually with a view to gaining security for themselves and their families. The academic and professional choices of the mature women were more conventionally "feminine" than those of younger women graduates in 1968. Almost half the women had returned to studies for clear-cut economic reasons, and 75.4% of the graduates were working full- or part-time in their specialties. Almost 80.0% of working graduates were employed in teaching or health fields and, except for nurses, were highly satisfied with their jobs. Early interruption in education (for example, at the end of high school) tended to lower horizons for later education, as well as decrease chances of pursuing interests in science and the prestige professions. Maturity and life experience were, however, considered valuable assets in continuing formal studies. Many respondents considered themselves "pioneers" in continuing their studies in an atmosphere which was non-supportive to mature women students. The conflict between stereotyped feminine roles and higher education for women was clearly felt by one-third of the women, even in this population which made largely conventional academic choices. The survey presents a picture of well-adjusted, purposeful women who achieved their academic goals without the help of a community college system since established, and the somewhat increased financial and part-time study opportunities which later became available. The conclusion is that only those who enjoyed some advantages or who were willing to undergo heavy stress - or both - were able to succeed in the mid-1960's.
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