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Work‐life integration: experiences of mid‐career professional working mothers

Geraldine Grady (Centre for Innovation and Structural Change, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Alma M. McCarthy (J.E. Cairnes Graduate School of Business & Public Policy, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




This paper aims to explore how mid‐career professional mothers perceive themselves in relation to their work and family roles, how they experience these roles, how they merge their work, family and individual self, and what meaning they make of this integration.


The study used in‐depth qualitative interviews with 18 participants aged between 37 and 55 with at least one dependent child under the age of 18, in dual‐earning/career households.


The study reports that a complex relationship of work‐related dynamics and personal factors shaped the meaning for these women amid competing priorities of work, family and individual lives. Organisation and co‐ordination of multiple activities with support from various sources was fundamental to finding balance. A deep sense of motherhood was evident in that their children were their number one priority but career was of high importance as they sought stimulation, challenges, achievement and enrichment in their work. Now, in mid‐career transition, the respondents seek more self‐care time in an effort to find new meaning in the work, family and self equation.

Research limitations/implications

The study raises important issues for the management of professional working mothers and the implications of the study for individuals and organisations are set out.


This paper makes contributions to work‐life integration and career theory. It provides one of the first empirical studies on work‐life integration in Ireland using the construct of meaningful work and secondly builds on the kaleidoscope career model theory.



Grady, G. and McCarthy, A.M. (2008), "Work‐life integration: experiences of mid‐career professional working mothers", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 599-622.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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