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Title:Maternal Employment Status, Parental Attitude Toward and Satisfaction With That Status, and the Behavior of Children in Preschool
Author(s):Swain, Roberta Ellen
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:This study examined the relationship between maternal employment status, parental attitude toward and satisfaction with that status, and the behavior of children in a preschool setting. The subjects were 47 preschool children in two preschools and their parents. Over a period of four weeks, each child was observed for 15 five-minute periods while in preschool. Four trained observers used the Preschool Behavior Observation Instrument adapted from the work of Blurton Jones (1972a). Each parent completed one questionnaire related to their satisfaction with the mother's employment status; and each mother completed questionnaires on attitude toward child rearing and homemaking. Mothers who were employed completed a questionnaire on attitude toward their job. Parents also completed a questionnaire which supplied demographic information.
Since previous research had suggested that demographic characteristics and parental attitude or satisfaction might be important variables which intervene in the relationship between maternal work status and child behavior, one goal was to determine whether child behavior was related to maternal employment when the other variables were controlled. Results indicated that maternal employment status was significantly related to only one out of fifteen behavior factors when other variables were controlled.
A second purpose of this study was to determine if maternal feelings of satisfaction with employment status or maternal attitude toward employment status were relevant intervening variables. There was strong evidence in this study for that view. When stepwise multiple regressions were performed to determine which combination of demographic, attitude, and satisfaction variables explained the greatest proportion of variance in child behavior, a maternal attitude or satisfaction variable was present in ten out of 15 of the final regression equations.
A third purpose of this study was to determine if the level of satisfaction of the husband with the wife's employment status was significantly related to child behavior. This study found no significant relationship between father's level of satisfaction and child behavior in any of the analyses.
A final purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between maternal employment status and parental satisfaction with that status as well as between maternal employment status and maternal attitude toward homemaking, child rearing, and work. This study found a significant positive relationship between the number of hours per week that the women worked and their satisfaction with their employment status. In addition, the level of satisfaction of the wife was greater than that of the husband for every employment status group except the nonemployed women. There was no significant relationship between maternal employment and maternal attitude toward child rearing or homemaking.
These results support those of other research which has suggested that the notion that maternal employment, by itself, is harmful to preschool children may be a myth. The lack of a feeling of satisfaction on the part of nonemployed women is seen as a cause of some concern since it may be the result of a lack of physical and/or emotional support from society, spouse or even the woman herself. Finally, the results of this study support the notion that attitude, satisfaction, and such demographic variables as socioeconomic status, child's age, child's sex, length of time spent in preschool, number of siblings, and birth order need to be considered in future maternal employment research.
Issue Date:1981
Description:264 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203610
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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