Women, work, and identities


Conference Paper

This paper uses the concept of identity to understand constancy and change in women's work histories. Identities are self-in-role meanings such as parent, worker, or professional. Identities are relational, hierarchical, and have consistency and motivational implications for behavior. From a life course perspective, we posit that identities both help organize and also change with the course of people's lives. We illustrate the organizing role of identities with a continuous-time discrete-state stochastic model of women's movement between job-related identities (employed but not as part of a career and employed in a career) and less-than-full-time employment. The model considers the rates of transitions into and out of identity states as functions of fixed and changing personal resources, changes in stage of the family life cycle, rewards and opportunities associated with the present job and the career line, and several forms of duration dependence (time spent in the state). Data come from life histories of a Washington state sample of women, studied at age 30 in 1979 and 13 years earlier in 1966 (N = 2536). The analyses suggest work identities operate largely as hypothesized and that the concept has potential for understanding work histories. © 1990.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Spenner, KI; Rosenfeld, RA

Published Date

  • January 1, 1990

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 19 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 266 - 299

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0049-089X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/0049-089X(90)90010-G

Citation Source

  • Scopus