This qualitative study explored the experience of 32 traditional college freshmen women as they sought to choose a career with the idea of balancing career and family in the future. A traditional woman was defined as a woman whose central value system and cultural mores emphasize homemaking and childrearing as their primary role. Guided interviews were conducted to obtain in-depth descriptions of participants' experience. The interviews were transcribed and interpreted using a synthesis of qualitative methods based on Kvale's method. The six themes were as follows: 1. The concept of balancing careers and family life is not being discussed or addressed. 2. Participants saw their mothers' influence as the most significant in helping them come to their present decision about career and motherhood. 3. Education and a career are viewed as separate entities. 4. Participants reported experiencing both guilt and ambivalence over wanting both a career and a family. 5. Participants saw career and motherhood as mutually exclusive. 6. Participants thought of their ideas as being mainstream whether they wanted to work or stay at home while raising a family. The findings suggested that much more needs to be done in terms of encouraging discussion and providing forums for further exploration, to help resolve some of the ambivalence and confusion traditional women experience in trying to balance family and career.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





Women, Career, Development, Traditional roles, Work/Family