Portland State University. Department of Social Work
Ada K. Wilson
Date of Award
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Women -- Attitudes, Older people -- Attitudes, Feminism
Women, as feminist and as familist, have been in many varied ways the subjects of study. They have been studied as black women, middle-aged women, sexual women, women in poverty, women in prison, women raped, executives, celebrities, lesbians and homemakers. The classifications and combinations approached infinity. Now older women are becoming a more popular research topic, as their numbers increase with medical attainments. With the increasing participation of older “sisters” in such organizations as the National Organization for Women, and the advent of groups such as the gray panthers, it has become apparent that there are no age barriers to feminism.
A series of questions led us to our topic. What will our attitudes on the issues now personally significant be in 40 years, when we have passed “retirement age?” What were women who have reached this age like when they were our age and younger? Is there a connection between their younger years and the attitudes they now possess? In pursing this final question we chose to define the “younger years” as before 25, when socialization influences one’s search of identity, development of autonomy, and development of internal criteria for self-esteem. The age chosen for our population was after the 65 the birthday, when most women are no longer working outside of the home for wages.
It has been said that women who have achieved and have been rewarded for their achievements cannot accept traditional roles. Such roles do not gratify their non-nurturant, non-supportive, non-dependent, non-passive aspects of their selves. Our hypotheses were made in accordance: that a woman’s “feminism,” as measured by our scale, would be directly related to her achievement in school and work, her leadership or participation in religious activities, politics, and sports. In addition to the above objectives, we wanted to seek a relationship between the woman’s feminism scores and other aspects of her family background, her inter-relationships with boys, and her opportunities to travel. We approached these issues without hypotheses, but with great receptivity and interest.
Austin, Gayle and Sime, Anna Belle, "A comparison of socialization and the current attitudes towards personal and feminist issues of women over 65" (1975). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2178.