Nicole Arthur: Young Australian women’s aspirations for work, marriage and family.
Purpose of the study: Currently there is little research into the life aspirations of young Australian women. The aim of this study is to explore young Australian women’s plans for, and expectations of, future roles and to identify possible relationships between these perceived future aspirations and selected socio-demographic and psychological variables.
Two studies were conducted.
In Study 1, data from a selected sample of N = 6251 from the Younger cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) were quantitatively analysed.
In Study 2, qualitative data from 13 semi-structured interviews with single, childless, female students aged 18-25 from the University of Queensland, Australia were analysed.
Study 1 indicated that future employment, relationship and motherhood aspirations could be used to categorize the majority of the young women into two dominant groups. A Modern group, who envisaged to be working full-time, in a stable relationship and have a maximum of two children by the age of 35; and a Traditional group, who wanted to be working part-time, married and have at least two children. Multivariate analysis of variance showed significant differences between the two groups on the selected variables of area of residence, educational level, physical health, stress, depression, optimism and life satisfaction, but effect sizes were negligible.
Thematic analysis of the qualitative data indicated that a young Australian woman’s ideal family model and past family influences were highly influential in determining her future life aspirations. Young Australian women indicate that their future partners will be a significant variable in the successful attainment of their future life aspirations and wellbeing.
Overall, the study suggested that social, historical and contextual factors were more important than individual psychological characteristics in differentiating between young Australian women of differing future life aspirations.