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Re-Imagining Work and Community: Work, Family, and Community in the Lives of New Jersey Professional Women, 2001-2005

CLASP This collaborative research project between the Institute for Women’s Leadership and the Center for Women and Work, which was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, investigated the ways that professional women in dual-earner households define and interact with their multiple communities. The project involved interviews with thirty-one women managers from New Jersey pharmaceutical companies, financial services, and information technology firms. The guiding questions were: (1) How do professional women in dual-earner marriages define their communities and think about community involvement? (2) What civic and other structures enable and support women’s ability to achieve success in their work? And (3) How do professional women use their talents in support of their communities?

The project investigators concluded that professional women think about their communities broadly, and include the home, the work place, the neighborhood, the town, their children’s schools and athletic groups, church voluntary associations, friendship networks, alumnae groups, sororities, and the nuclear and extended family in their definitions of community. We also found that professional women demonstrate leadership in the contexts of work, household, and community and use their managerial posts as springboards to expand their influence in all areas of their lives. As change-makers, women in middle to upper management positions are taking the lead in striving to create new, less “gendered” models for behavior in the workplace, the family, and the wider world.

Another key finding was that, rather than diminishing their community involvement, women’s expanded work roles allow them to build strong links in their communities as they apply their professional skills to their voluntarism. Our study also confirms other research that demonstrates the high degree of stress and time pressure that workers experience in the twenty-first century global economy, as well as the inadequacy of support structures for them in the workplace, family, and community.

The co-principal investigators for the Re-Imagining Work and Community project were Mary S. Hartman, University Professor and Director, Institute for Women’s Leadership; Patricia A. Roos, Professor, Department of Sociology and Co-Director, Center for Women and Work; and Mary K. Trigg, Associate Professor, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and Director of Research and Leadership Programs, Institute for Women’s Leadership.

View Publications
Patricia A. Roos, Mary K. Trigg, and Mary S. Hartman. “Changing Families/Changing Communities: Work, Family, and Community in Transition.” Community, Work & Family," April 2006.

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