Women, Work & Family
This is a 5-page paper that analyzes an interview
you conduct with someone whose background is different from your own
about his or her decisions regarding work and family. This is a
synthesis exercise. You need to interpret this person’s story in light
of the history, theories and concepts you have learned from the course.
What NOT to do: Give me a “report” of what this person told you or a
chronological narrative of their career or family or a list of answers
to the suggested questions below. What TO do: Make an ARGUMENT about
this person’s life choices (i.e. usually explaining how the interaction
of family, social, and institutional factors led this person to the
decisions they made about education, career, and family). The interview
itself is not the paper. It is the raw materials (the “evidence” so to
speak) for the interpretation you are making. Some of it will be
relevant to your argument. Some of it won’t. You should cite
articles/chapters read for the course in your discussion. You should
also talk to this person about your interpretations of his/her
experiences. You need not necessarily agree about the interpretation
(and these points of disagreement might be fruitful “data” for the
FINAL PAPERS WILL DO THREE THINGS:
Your paper will present a thesis--that is, an argument or
position about this person’s work and family choices that requires
defense or support (i.e. a reasonable person could disagree with you on
You will offer specific, appropriate, and carefully analyzed
evidence that supports your thesis. That is, you will quote this person
or recount stories or facts from this person’s life that make your
interpretation of his/her experience compelling.
You will make connections between this person's work/family story
and the readings / discussion we have done for class.
We have read many articles and book chapters based
on interviews or surveys conducted by scholars with a wide variety of
populations. Attend to both WHAT this person tells you and the WAY the
person tells it. Take both into account in making your argument.
If this is going well, you will get STORIES from
this person vs. just 1-2 sentence answers. This is what you want.
Things to think about:
FAMILY: What kind of family did this person grow up
in? Extended, nuclear, single-parent, etc.? Were there “other mothers”
present? Did the mother work outside the home? For pay? What kinds of
jobs did mother and father do—were their fields “masculine” or
“feminine,” well-paid or poorly paid or volunteer? How did they feel
about this? What sort of relative importance was placed on men’s and
women’s work? Who did domestic work and childcare? Why? How many
siblings, and what kinds of decisions did they make about careers and
families? Religious background? Is/was it relevant to ideas about work
and family, and if so, how?
DECISIONS ABOUT EDUCATION/TRAINING: How much and
what kind of education does this person have? What kind and how much
education do parents and siblings have? Husbands, wives, or partners?
Was race, class or gender important in how much education they got and
the area they chose to specialize in (do they think so, do you)? Were
they encouraged or discouraged from entering certain kinds of work by
school counselors, extended family, or peers? WHEN was this person
making these decisions?
WORK/FAMILY: How did they choose a career/field
and why? What do they like/dislike about their field? How important
was being a breadwinner to the decision? How important were flexibility
and the opportunity to accommodate family demands? Desire to serve the
community? Is this person in a field or subfield that is dominated by
men or women, or a mixture? What is the racial/ethnic background of
coworkers? Sexual identity/orientation? Does this matter to them? Has
family influenced career decisions? How? Have career needs and demands
influenced decisions about family? How and why?
Who does “the second shift,” and why? Do ideas
about “going rates,” fear about the consequences of divorce, or “family
myths” seem to operate? How? Do they have household help—nanny,
housekeeper, lawn service, etc., and how do they think about it? Who
are these helpers, and how/what are they paid? Does this person have
religious beliefs that shaped decisions/ideas about family and career?
Does sexual identity (gay, straight, bi, whatever) influence ways of
thinking about family and career work or the stories this person tells
you about home and work life?
CHANGES: If this person has changed jobs/careers
or gotten divorced, remarried, re-partnered, adopted a child, changed
their mind about having kids (whatever)—why? Is the first job/career
different from the second? Is the first marriage/partnership different
from the second? How? Why? Is this person's life different than s/he
would have imagined? How/why?
FEMINISM: Does this person call her/himself a
feminist? Why/why not? Do any of his/her ideas/convictions resonate
with maternalist, liberal or socialist feminist ideals? Why do you
think so? Has this person ever been part of “alternative” households
that radically reimagined work and home life in ways Dolores Hayden
describes in relation to 19th-century visionaries?
Other things they’d like to add?
Papers should be typed, double-spaced, with 1-inch
margins and standard font size. Please number pages and staple papers
in the upper, left-hand corner. Be prepared with a 3-4 minute
presentation of your findings for the class.
Papers are due Mon. 2 Apr. at the start of class
in 2 formats: (1) hard copy you will hand in to me (see above); and
(2) an uploaded electronic copy to TURNITIN.COM (see below). If you are
ill or have a family emergency and can document it, I will accept late
papers without penalty. If not, the grade drops one full letter grade
for each business day it is late. E-mailed and fax-ed papers are NOT
I would be thrilled to talk about papers, look at
outlines, talk about theses, etc. at any point. E-mail and phone work
if in-person does not. ((972) 883-2338 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Office:
TURNITIN.COM – go to
www.turnitin.com. The course id number is 1800621. The password is
ON CITATION: Use the MLA Citation
method (parenthetical references in text with author last name and page
number; Works Cited list at the end). Explained here: