ERIC Number: ED232097
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Nov-20
Changing Perspectives and Opportunities and Their Impact on Careers and Aspirations: The Case of Women Lawyers.
Epstein, Cynthia Fuchs
Change in the roles of women in American society during the past 15 years provides an opportunity to evaluate basic theories dealing with life course, the impact of early socialization, and trait analysis. The case of women in the legal profession is of particular value in exploring these issues since law, an exclusively male domain for more than 50 years, is now 14 percent female, and one third of recruitments are women. Biological and social inheritance theories provide justification for the exclusion of women from jobs regarded as male; however, today these models are scrutinized for their more general analysis of human nature and development. Theories of this type have been, in some cases, adopted by feminine activists and fundamentalists, who each maintain that women are predisposed to values and objectives different from men. While early socialization does provide part of the explanation for the self-selection pattern which dissuades women from choosing careers that have been sex-typed as male, it does not account for the substantial increase in the number of women applicants to law school in the 1970's; these women were not socialized to the profession. The rapid and dramatic rise in women's admissions to law school occurred in too short a time to reflect real change in the childrearing patterns for young girls. Possible explanations for the increased enrollment for women lawyers include the influence of spouses and peers, and, in the case of older women going back to school, the influence of children. Opportunity has not only seemed to affect women's choice of law as a profession in the 1970's but their ambitions and aspirations as well. Although women have been socialized to place family and feminine values ahead of occupational success, more women now strive to succeed in the legal profession. (AG)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (35th, Boston, MA, November 19-23, 1982).