Many Women today are transitioning from the second wave feminism of the 1960’s and 1970’s. There was a mindset of us and them and focused on the sexual freedom of woman and a separation of women as wives and mothers.
The third wave feminism began somewhere in the 1990’s and began a response of perceived failures of the second wave. The concept is based on the power of a woman. There is a coming of age within this third wave of the Generation X Woman and the life transition of Baby Boomers. Many women are evaluating their career choices and moving towards a self-actualization phase. Beck’s (1997) study on women moving through what she defined as the “breaking point” to increased consciousness and reintegration of self.
Putney (2002) looked at the life paths of baby boom women, a component of who examined their changes in occupations and work status, and compared these women to their silent generation counterparts. Neuharth (1992) investigated baby boom men and women who at midlife were making a career change. Kiely (2000) also looked at the subjective experiences of midlife women to come to a woman-centered understanding of what makes work meaningful.
Seeley’s (2000) research centered on midlife women who are moving into a new vocation based on a calling and explored the spiritual dimension of work and self.
Their research gave way to a revolutionary look at the evolution of women. When they documented the transition of these women they found many interesting traits. As part of their personal transformation and change, there were many examples of an evolutionary process of becoming someone different, rediscovering parts of themselves, or moving toward their more authentic self and listening to their voice within.
There is a central theme of commitment and passion around learning, growing and gaining new skills. This transitional phase is one that encompasses turmoil and self-reflection. Woman in these studies reported a high level of frustration prior to the transition including felling ill, physical manifestation in the form of insomnia and a general sense of loss of well-being. After the Personal Transformation and change they reported many beneficial effects including a general sense of well-being, health and happiness.
Women have begun to question and to look beyond their current scope. They are inherently affected by their surrounding and emotional connections with the choices they make. The result of this questioning is not one of radical change in career, but rather an awareness or quiet questioning of themselves and the roles that they have chosen for themselves. This quiet questioning is about integration, balance, productivity and meaning in their work and lives.