"That rich, rich quality of existence": mothers with professional careers talk about their experiences of flourishing.

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"That rich, rich quality of existence": mothers with professional careers talk about their experiences of flourishing.

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This study uses data from the Changing Landscape of American Women study to explore whether and how mothers with professional careers experience a state of well-being known as flourishing. The Changing Landscape of American Women study is a USDA-approved multi-state research effort. Investigators are collecting data from Latina immigrants, farm and ranch women, and women with professional careers to explore how women's media may impact their ability to achieve work, family and personal satisfaction. The present paper looks at data from thirty-three mothers with professional careers who live and work in the greater Twin Cities area of Minnesota. The women each participated in one of five focus groups sessions to discuss the challenges and satisfactions of their busy lives. Analytic induction was used to code their comments according to operational definitions of symptoms of flourishing; then narrative analysis techniques were applied to distill their conversation to an overall expression of flourishing. The women reported in their own words that they do experience the state of flourishing. The results indicate that for the women who participated in the study, the biggest challenge to flourishing was living in a social context that was at odds with the realities of their lives as mothers with professional careers. Despite this challenge, the women explicitly expressed that they did experience the state of flourishing. For them, flourishing involved the internal characteristics of desiring to combine career and motherhood in their lives, and being realistic about what they could accomplish. Flourishing also involved having external resources that included a spouse they could rely on, a strong network of social support, and a good amount of flexibility in their lives. Practice implications include recommendations that counselors and educators work to help women who want to combine career and family understand the symptoms of flourishing and how other women have experienced them. Implications for employers who want to maximize the talent of their employees who are mothers with professional careers include explicitly acknowledging that many highly educated women want to have both a challenging career and a healthy family. Allowing these women the flexibility to map out a unique pattern for successfully combining the two domains in their lives will be important.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2010. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Kathryn Rettig, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 182 pages, appendices A-J.

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Andrews, Margaret. (2010). "That rich, rich quality of existence": mothers with professional careers talk about their experiences of flourishing.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/91785.

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