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Women at Midlife: What Can Psychology Teach Us? Lisa A. Goodman, Ph.D. Department of Counseling and Developmental Psychology Lynch School of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Women at Midlife: What Can Psychology Teach Us? Lisa A. Goodman, Ph.D. Department of Counseling and Developmental Psychology Lynch School of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Women at Midlife: What Can Psychology Teach Us? Lisa A. Goodman, Ph.D. Department of Counseling and Developmental Psychology Lynch School of Education

2 Invisibility …… in the psychological literature …… in the psychological literature

3 Invisibility ……. In the Psychology of Women Quarterly ……. In the Psychology of Women Quarterly

4 Invisibility ….. in the popular media ….. in the popular media

5 Invisibility …..in the classroom …..in the classroom

6 Limits and Loss

7 Openness and Freedom

8 Integrative

9 Integrative Abigail Stewart Abigail Stewart Institute for Research on Women and Gender Institute for Research on Women and Gender University of Michigan University of Michigan Joan Ostrove Joan Ostrove Ravenna Helson Ravenna Helson Nicola Newton Nicola Newton David Winter David Winter Kathi Miner-Rubino Kathi Miner-Rubino

10 Identity Certainty a clear sense of self and one’s place in the social world a clear sense of self and one’s place in the social world

11 Confident Power feelings of mastery and competence feelings of mastery and competence

12 Generativity preoccupation with a world beyond the self and desire to make a contribution preoccupation with a world beyond the self and desire to make a contribution

13 Concerns about Aging preoccupation about “time left” and decreased physical strength and attractiveness preoccupation about “time left” and decreased physical strength and attractiveness

14 Sample 300 middle- and upper middle class women’s college students 300 middle- and upper middle class women’s college students Surveyed in their 20s, 40s, 60s Surveyed in their 20s, 40s, 60s 250 white women (and men) who had graduated from an urban public school 250 white women (and men) who had graduated from an urban public school Surveyed in their 60s and asked about their 20s and 40s Surveyed in their 60s and asked about their 20s and 40s

15 Growing sense of…… Identity Identity Power Power Generativity Generativity Worry about mortality, aging, loss of capacity Worry about mortality, aging, loss of capacity

16 Irrespective of……. College education College education Marital status Marital status Children Children Work Work Social class Social class

17 What Can We Conclude? Questions shape answers Questions shape answers

18 Why Does it Matter? Narratives Popular MediaWomen’s Lives

19 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Within the woman’s story, as exemplified in most theoretical and empirical research, the high points of the narrative are clustered toward the early years of adulthood, when marriage and childbearing are the events of interest…Then stability, then a regressive fall, marked by negative accelerations with the departure of children and widowhood. According to this narrative form, a woman’s life is basically downhill or regressive from 40 on. [This narrative itself] serves to exacerbate the plight of the mature woman who is faced with no clear alternatives. It operates as an invitation to anxiety and depression Within the woman’s story, as exemplified in most theoretical and empirical research, the high points of the narrative are clustered toward the early years of adulthood, when marriage and childbearing are the events of interest…Then stability, then a regressive fall, marked by negative accelerations with the departure of children and widowhood. According to this narrative form, a woman’s life is basically downhill or regressive from 40 on. [This narrative itself] serves to exacerbate the plight of the mature woman who is faced with no clear alternatives. It operates as an invitation to anxiety and depression Mary Gergen Mary Gergen

20 Empirical Support Negative Stereotypes Better Performance Worse Performance Positive Stereotypes

21 Empirical Support – Becca Levy YOUNGER AGE: Negative stereotypes about older people OLDER AGE: Poor physical health

22 Empirical Support – Becca Levy 25% of those with negative age related stereotypes at 30  heart problems at 60 13% of those with positive age related stereotypes at 30  heart problems at 60 Controlling for: blood pressure, smoking, depression, cholesterol Controlling for: blood pressure, smoking, depression, cholesterol

23 Images Move Into the Body, Mind, and Soul Social Science Research Images Women’s Experience

24 Where From Here?

25 Returning to Loss and Limits

26 Returning to Openness and Freedom

27 Returning to Identity

28 Returning to Mastery

29 Returning to Generativity

30 Returning to Concerns About Aging

31 Who Am I …. Now That I'm Not Who I Was?


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