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Work and Family Role Integration among Professional and Managerial Mothers At the Mid-Career Stage Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationWork and Family Role Integration among Professional and Managerial MothersAt the Mid-Career StageWomen who delay childbearing until they reach the mid-career stage may encounter a unique set of challenges related to the ability to balance the conflicting demands of motherhood and their careers. Organizations are failing to retain their most highly educated and talented females and, as a result, women are poorly represented at higher levels in organizations (Cabrera, 2009). The degree to which a woman believes she can effectively manage, or integrate, her competing roles may have significant practical implications for her well being, her personal career trajectory, and her organization's ability to benefit from her talent and expertise. This study focuses on understanding how managerial and professional women at the mid-career stage, with one or more young children, manage their competing roles and how the need for work and family integration influences their career choices. This study used a phenomenological research design, specifically, the Empirical Psychological Phenomenological Research Method (EPPRM), which consisted of in-depth interviews with eleven women who met the criteria for the study. The findings of this study indicated seven overarching themes that emerged from the interviews with the eleven participants. Most ideas related to these seven areas were presented and reviewed in theory and literature. The findings of this study demonstrated mid-career women, though wanting to engage strongly and perform optimally in their work roles, have a strong pull toward the family domain. Mid-career women described their experiences in integrating work and family roles as consisting of elements of both work-family role conflict and role enhancement. Also found was that a heightened focus on balance and relationships existed simultaneously with a desire to continue to learn and grow in their career. The interplay of these elements was influenced by role salience and work-family borders, and characterized by the need for flexibility and a preference for working pragmatically.The need for women to feel they are performing successfully at work, while at the same time focusing on the needs of their families, represents a challenge for individuals as well as organizations. Thus, understanding these experiences is important for organizations that want to retain professional women at mid-to-senior levels.

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