Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Middle-aged women-Attitudes, Women college graduates-Attitudes, Middle-aged women-Psychology, Women college graduates-Psychology, Women's development, Late midlife, Late middle age


This qualitative study explores the commonalities in the life experiences of a small sample of women in late middle age. Twelve college-educated women, ages 55 to 68, from two northeastern states, responded to open-ended interview questions and produced narratives of their lives in relation to self, family, work, and significant relationships. Changes the women have perceived in themselves over the course of their adult lives were explored, including the influence of age-related physical changes. The narratives also show how social movements of the 1960s and early 1970s influenced these women's lives. The findings suggest an increase in self-confidence and an increased sense of clarity in regard to self-definition. For the most part, the women were living and working according to their values and expressing parts of themselves not realized at earlier times of their lives. Many were also leading highly generative lives, and generativity was expressed in different ways. The findings also show that late midlife for women may be the period of the life span when moral purpose comes to fruition. Finally, life in late middle age has a sense of being unfinished; these women wanted to be or do much more.




iii, 142 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 129-137)

Limited Access until August 2017