Opting in between: Strategies used by professional women with children to balance work and family

  • Grant-Vallone E
  • Ensher E
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Abstract

Professional women with children are inundated with conflicting messages about how tomanage their careers andpersonal lives andwhether they should‘‘opt in’’or ‘‘optout’’ of the workforce. Using in-depth interviews with 23 professional women, this study focused on the career choices that women make after having children. The authors found thatmanymothers neither opt in or opt out but successfully function in between hese twochoices,oropt ‘‘inbetween,’’byworkingflexiblehours,byworking part-time, and/or by being involved with home-based entrepreneurial endeavors. Using the boundaryless career typology of knowing why, knowing how, and knowing whom, the authors summarize the key strategies that mothers use to opt in between. The intervieweeswere clearaboutwhytheywereworking,managedtheir careers byfinding the right organizational fit, did not focus on guilt or perfectionism, and maintained excellent networks of friends, bosses, colleagues, and day care providers.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Women's careers
  • boundaryless careers
  • opting in
  • work-family balance

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Authors

  • Elisa J. Grant-Vallone

  • Ellen A. Ensher

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