Determinants of Occupational Role Innovation Among College Women1


  • 1

    This report is based upon a doctoral dissertation submitted to The University of Michigan, 1969. The research was supported by NIMH Research Grant Number 5-FI-MH-30,493-03. The Michigan Student Study, from which most of these data are derived, is directed by Theodore Newcomb and Gerald Gurin (Gurin, 1971). I am very grateful to Dr. Gurin for making these data and his facilities available to me, and for his unfailing encouragement and enthusiasm. I wish also to thank Patricia Gurin, Joseph Veroff, and Raphael Ezekiel for giving generously of their time and advice throughout this project. I am indebted to Martha Mednick and Lois Hoffman for their critical reading of earlier versions of this paper.


This study of 200 senior college women investigates the relationship between non-sextypical occupational choices (Role Innovation) and background, personality, and college experience. Role Innovators are more autonomous, individualistic, and motivated by internally imposed demands to perform to capacity. Rather than cross-sex identification, there is some evidence of role modeling of more educated working mothers. The Role Innovators' career commitment is greater, yet they have as many romantic and friendship relationships with men as do Traditionais. Faculty and female college friends provide role support, but a supportive boyfriend may be more important at this stage. A four-part typology is suggested in which role modeling and the type of maternal model are related to motivational patterns and occupational choice.