Childlessness in a child-centered environment : the experiences of voluntarily childless female teachers /
Rees, Linda J.
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In the literature on voluntary childlessness there is a lack of research on the types of occupations held by women who choose not to mother and how their fertility choice influences their occupational experiences. At the same time, the experience ofwomen with regard to the childfree choice has not been adequately addressed in contemporary feminist literature. In the field of education, much has been written about the association between mothering and teaching. Thus, childfree teachers become particularly interesting since they made seemingly paradoxical choices in that they chose not to bear and rear children yet they chose an occupation in which they are surrounded by and responsible for the daily care of many children. To gain an understanding of the work-related experiences of childfree women, in-depth interviews were conducted with 7 voluntarily childless female elementary school teachers from Southern Ontario. In addition, a focus group interview in which 3 of the 7 childfree teachers participated was conducted. Findings revealed that these women's "choice" to be childless was the result of complex circumstances and multiple motivations. Also, despite their decision to forgo the traditional female role of mother, these women held surprisingly conventional beliefs with regard to family and gender roles. In addition, these childfree women at times identified themselves as mother-like when teaching, yet at other times distanced themselves as teachers from mothers. Finally, results showed that these women experienced both direct and indirect pronatalist pressures outside as well as inside the workplace as a result of their childfree status.