Mandatory Motherhood and Compulsory Careers: An Application of Theory of Planned Behaviour to Young Women’s Mothering and Career Intentions
Agar, Ava Dawn 1982-
Young adults make many decisions that may impact their future adult lives, including decisions about mothering and careers—two life roles often in opposition. Using a mixed-method design, the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) model and an expanded TPB model considering other- role beliefs were tested. In Study 1, young women (N = 22) from a large Western Canadian University responded to questions eliciting beliefs about mothering and career intentions from which belief-based TPB items measuring attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived control were created. In Study 2, nulliparous young women (N = 349), ages 18-29, completed a questionnaire assessing role intentions, role salience, gender-role traits, anticipated work-family conflict, specific fertility knowledge and intentions, and TPB beliefs. Women’s role intentions were independent of each other (r = .03): Most women intended to pursue both roles (mothering n = 301; careers n = 344). Career salience was associated with greater intended age at first birth and associated with decreased desired family size, anticipated distress if infertile, and intended use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Mothering salience was associated with lower age at intended first birth and increased number of children, distress if unable to have children, and intentions to use ART. Mothering attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived control accounted for 53% of the variance in mothering intentions. Career attitudes and career subjective norms further contributed, but minimally, to mothering intentions over and above the basic TPB model. Partially supporting the TPB, career attitudes and perceived control accounted for 8% of the variance in career intentions. Mothering subjective norms further contributed to career intentions over and above the basic TPB model. The current research supports the TPB over the theory of reasoned action; however, it may also be useful to consider other-role beliefs when examining women’s role intentions. Moreover, role salience, gender traits, and anticipated work-family conflict—while controlling for TPB beliefs—predicted additional variance in role intentions, suggesting such other factors are not entirely accounted for by the TPB (as posited in the theory) and should be considered in addition to TPB constructs. Implications for intervention and policy and directions for further study are discussed.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeChartier, Brian; McDougall, Patti; Pierson, Roger; Cummings, Jorden
Copyright DateJune 2018
theory of planned behaviour