Women’s return to school following the transition to motherhood

Ellen M. Bradburn, Phyllis Moen, Donna Dempster-Mc Clain

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37 Scopus citations


This study draws on a life course perspective and event history methods to analyze the factors affecting the rate of women’s school reentry following marriage and motherhood. We use a panel data archive of women born between 1905 and 1933 who were married and had children at the time of their first interviews in 1956 and draw on life histories collected during a second interview in 1986. Key variables related to an increase in the rate of school reentry include higher levels of prior education, holding nontraditional gender-role orientations, and life course experiences such as divorce and part-time employment. Further, more recent cohorts of women are more likely to return to school than those born earlier in the century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1517-1551
Number of pages35
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
"An earlier version of this article was presented at the 87th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Pittsburgh, August, 1992. We appreciate the considerable file construction accomplished by Vivian Fields and the erescience of Robin M. Williams, Jr. in considering zvomen's roles in the 1950s. We are grateful for useful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts from David Stran& Elaine Wethington, and Kristin Esterberg, and for the helpful input of two anonymous reviewers. Support for this research was provided by the National Institute on Aging grant #RO1-AG05450, Phyllis Moen and Robin M. Williams Jr, principal investigators; and by USDA Hatch grant #NYC 321420, Phyllis Moen, Principal Investigator. Direct correspondence to Ellen M. Bradburn, Department of Sociology, Coe College, 1220 First Avenue NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.


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