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How do women create fulfilling lives? How does the identity they choose (or not choose) by the end of their college career affect how their lives unfold? For 35 years, Ruthellen Josselson has followed 26 randomly selected women who graduated from college in the early 1970s. Because these women came of age at this particular time in history, they were the trailblazers in creating new possibilities for women's lives and were among the first of the Women's Liberation Movement to take on meaningful roles in the work world. These "real" women, in contrast to the pervasive media stereotypes of the time, took on the challenge in very different ways and championed very different lives for themselves.
In Paths to Fulfillment: Women's Search for Meaning and Identity, Josselson traces the stages of these women's lives and the ways in which identity, intimacy, and care for others over time leads to fulfillment, or in some cases, a lack of fulfillment. She examines the complexity of the relationship between a woman's roots, her efforts to create a unique life for herself, and how others become part of the self altogether. Josselson examines individual lives in depth for clues to understanding the strengths that help a woman to find fulfillment, and how a focus on raising the younger generation plays a role in creating this identity.
With remarkable clarity and insight, Josselson challenges the common stereotypes of women, and shows how work, love, and care are all intertwined in a woman's feeling of identity.
Ruthellen Josselson is a psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Fielding Graduate University.