A Qualitative Study of Changes in Career Orientation: Exploring the Contributions of Life Meaning and Role Modeling/Mentoring to Women's Life/Career Paths
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The third phase of a longitudinal study, this qualitative project investigated changes in career orientation in a sample of 12 women in the decade following their high school graduation. A modification of grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) was used to explore the contributions of life meaning and role modeling/mentoring to women's life/career paths. Major sources of meaning included family, career, education/intellectual growth, autonomy, and friendships. Family was prioritized, however, participants chose both family and career to the extent permitted by flexible work structures and childcare options. Significant individuals, including role models and mentors, influenced women's educational and career choices and achievement as well as values and decisions regarding parenting and the career-family interface. Role models and mentors were parents, siblings, extended family members, educators, and work colleagues.