Influences of marriage, motherhood, and other life events on Australian women's employment aspirations

Melissa Johnstone*, Jayne Lucke, Christina Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The study contributes to the understandings of how women negotiate work and family over the life course by investigating what factors impact young women's aspirations for full time, part-time, and other forms of work. Using data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) with its nationally representative sample of Australian women, the authors examine how women moving from their 20s to early 30s change their aspirations for employment (at the age of 35) after significant life events and changes, including the birth of a child. Multinomial logistic regression analyses across two transition periods (N = 7,505 and N = 7,584) showed that changes in employment aspirations co-occurred with movement into marriage or stable relationships and with changes in aspirations for family size. As young women become mothers, or move into situations in which motherhood is likely, many adjusted their employment aspirations away from full-time employment and toward part-time work. The findings suggest a growing awareness of the practical difficulties of balancing paid work and family roles within the current context of work and family policy and practice in Australia. Women's choices are not free of constraints; rather, younger generations of women negotiate work and family life by adjusting and changing their own aspirations within the context and circumstances of their lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


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