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Levine, A. (1975). Forging A Feminine Identity: Women in Four Professional Schools. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(1):63-67.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(1):63-67

Forging A Feminine Identity: Women in Four Professional Schools1

Adeline Levine, Ph.D.

Women who combine successful professional careers with family life necessarily meet challenges at important points all along the way. One set of problems they deal with concerns feminine identity. Identity is a commonly used term describing “a major result of the socialization process for the members of any society … [the development of] responses to the question, ‘Who am I?’ “2 For most women the answer to the question “Who am I?” is “wife and mother.” Women with high-level career aspirations must mesh their vocational and sexual roles in creating an integrated identity.

A 1967 study of women students in professional schools focused on the factors influencing successful careers for women and how the women planned to allocate their time and energy to their future families and jobs. The subjects of the study were a vast majority of the single women enrolled in four professional programs at Yale. The twenty-two students in the master's program in nursing and twenty-three in the master's program in teaching were called the women's career field group. Sixteen law students and eighteen medical students were called the men's career field group. All law, medical, and nursing students were invited to participate; only four refused. Since the teaching program was larger than the others, a random sample of fifty percent of that group was invited to participate. The seventy-nine participants gave very generously of their time, and most were enthusiastic, cooperative respondents, delighted that a social researcher was interested in their problems and views.

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