Exploring the Unique Vocational Experiences of Racial and Ethnic Minority Working Single Mothers
Richard, Julianne Yavorski
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According to data from the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 12 million single parent families in the United States, 80% of which are headed by single mothers (United States Census Bureau, 2014). Research suggests limited benefits of employment on the mental health and career satisfaction of single working mothers due to unique challenges they face. These include managing full time work and childcare with limited support and financial resources (Baker, North, & ALSPAC, 1999; Zabkiewicz, 2010). This qualitative study examined the unique career experiences of racial and ethnic minority working single mothers by exploring the intersectionality of identities in the workplace, unique challenges and social supports, and suggestions to improve the working lives of single mothers.The study provided a review of previous research of women, ethnic minority, and mothers' career development, which identified specific challenges faced by working single mothers. Researchers employed a consensual qualitative research (CQR) methodology and developed the interview protocol using Cook, Heppner, and O'Brien's (2002) ecological career of women of color and White women. Data points included 15 semi-structured, one hour interviews, member checking, and researcher memos.Results were analyzed using research teams that engaged in consensual domain coding and cross analysis. Findings included six major domains: (a) Job/Education Decision Making, (b) Challenges, (c), Characteristics of Self, (d), Resources, (e) Coping, and (f) Suggestions. Practical implications are discussed in the context of workplace interventions, diverse cultural considerations, and community resource development. Further research directions are presented based on the limitations in the present study.
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