The wife/mother/student : impact of the student role on personal project systems.


Burgess, Pamela D. (Pamela Dorothy-Anne).




The present research investigates the return to university of the wife/mother and its positive and negative effects on her everyday life situation. Personal projects analysis (Little, in press) provides the framework for the assessment of the content, structure and dynamics of 450 personal projects reported by 27 women who are wives, mothers and students. Each respondent was also asked to imagine that she were no longer a student. On the basis of this hypothetical situation, 369 new or continuing projects were listed by respondents as representative of their project systems as wives, mothers and ex-students. The hypothetical project systems were then compared to the actual project systems of respondents to assess the impact of the student role on their lives. Results indicate that the present life situation of the wife/mother/student is characterized by greater time pressures, project conflict and guilt than the hypothetical life situation of the wife/mother/ex-student. Family-centred activities remain consistently important, while household tasks are unenjoyable and unchallenging for the wife/mother in both project systems. Leisure activities increase in frequency in the hypothetical situation, benefitting in terms of expected progress from the easing of time pressures and project conflict. Academic pursuits, the major source of challenge for the wife/mother, are largely replaced by vocational plans when she imagines herself as no longer a student. Discussion centred on the significance of stress in the life situation of the wife/mother/student. The importance of support systems in the successful adaptation of the wife/mother to her student role is also considered.


Women College Students -- Psychology
Role Conflict.




Carleton University

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