"Opting In?" A Follow-Up Study of Women Who "Opted Out"
Feminist Conversations Spring 2014
Pamela Stone, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, discusses an approximately 10- year follow-up study of professional women who had "opted out" of their careers.
This talk reports on an approximately 10- year follow-up study of professional women who had "opted out" of their careers. Results at the time of the initial interview revealed that these women, all mothers, were unable to realize their preferences for meaningful, flexible pro-fessional work, a shortfall that played a critical role in their decision to leave the labor force, and that the majority planned to return to work. The follow-up finds that the majority have returned to work, but have significantly redirected away from their former careers. Profes-sional women's use of contingent and other non-standard work arrangements as a re-entry strategy--and the costs and benefits of this strategy--are explored, along with the narratives women develop around their work-family decision-making. A comparison of women's previous jobs with their re-entry jobs reveals realized--and unrealized--preferences and suggests directions for workplace redesign to attract and retain highly skilled professional women.
Pamela Stone is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A recipient of numerous grants and fellowships in support of her research, including one at the Radcliffe Insti-tute, Harvard University, she is an expert on women in the workplace and has written widely on such topics as the gender wage gap, pay equity, and the work-family interface. In research currently underway, she is conducting a follow-up of the women interviewed for Opting Out? and carrying out a cross-national study of policies affecting work time in advanced econo-mies. An honors graduate of Duke University, Stone received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University.