An investigation of the characteristics of midlife career change and midlife transition




Stapp, Betty C. Neumeyer

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Texas Woman's University


The purpose of this exploratory study was to provide baseline data on middle class midlife men and women from different ethnic backgrounds. The data include personal and career information and individual perceptions and attitudes. The data were analyzed for types of career changers, factors involved in career changes, relationships between midlife career change and life stage development , and gender and ethnicity differences . A written questionnaire was mailed to men and women between the ages of 34 and 54 who had at least two years of college and were currently enrolled in one of three Texas universities. Three hundred thirty-five individuals responded . Data collected were analyzed by the SPSS-X statistical package . The greatest percentage of respondents were in the 30s age groups . Black respondents were significantly younger than other ethnic respondents , and more females were found in the 40-44 age group . Black male respondents reenter college or consider a career change much earlier than Black women . Anglo respondents changed jobs much more frequently than Black and Hispanic subgroups. In the overall life situation, 29% of the Anglo female respondents had undergone a major transition; almost 67% of the respondents indicated they were making or had just completed a life or work transition. Decreased home and family duties were a primary reason for making a career change when gender was considered. More women were changing careers than men. More Hispanic respondents were changing careers than those from other ethnic subgroups. More men respondents, particularly Black men, were striving for career advancement as compared to women . The 34-39 age group was primarily comprised of career advancers career changers , while the 40-44 age group was comprised mostly of career advancers . In the 45-49 age group the largest percentage was the nonchanger group. Large groups of both career changers and nonchangers were found in the 50-54 age group . The most significant result was the identification of six distinct clusters of characteristics which predicted types of career changers (career changers , potential changers , career advancers , and nonchangers ). The six clusters were : ( a ) better job , ( b ) job frustration, ( c ) sex/ethnicity , (d) qualifications , (e ) family support , and (f) risk taking .



Career changes, Life change events, Middle age