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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

William Theimer Jr.

First Committee Member


Second Committee Member

Robert D. Morrow

Third Committee Member

Walter Nyberg

Fourth Committee Member

Lorna M. Swain


Decisions regarding careers, marriage, children and the care of children are sufficiently complex to warrant a genuine dilemma for some college students. The purpose of this study was to investigate the birth intentions of male and female college freshmen and the relationships of those intentions to sex roles, career aspirations and preferences for various child care options.

Relevant demographic and personal data were obtained from a questionnaire which also included the set of items from Dr. John Scanzoni's sex role scale. The questionnaire was administered to a total of 715 randomly selected college freshmen from three California institutions: a community college, a state college, and a private university. The total response rate was approximately 90%. The collected data were analyzed using a computer program which produced descriptive information, several analyses of variance and a multiple regression. Where tests of hypotheses were performed, the level of rejection was set at .05.

Most college freshmen intended to have two natural born children; women tended to desire slightly more children than men. Approximately 10% of the respondents intended to have no children and 17% intended to adopt one or more children. No differences in birth intentions based on kind of college attended, ethnic group, religion, parents' educational or occupational background, or students' career aspiration or child care expectation were found. The variables accounting for the most variance in the total size of intended family were the sex role score and the sex of the respondent. Those students who earned the least traditional sex role scores and those students who expected women to work continuously during adulthood intended smaller families.

Sex differences were revealed in sex role scores, child care preferences, and expectations for women to work. Men earned more traditional sex role scores and were more likely to prefer that their children be cared for by a non-working mother. More women intended to work more often than men intended for their wives to work. It was also true that women were more likely to prefer that their children be cared for equally by fathers and mothers, and sometimes supplemented by child care.

These results confirmed the trend toward smaller families and supported recent findings that sex roles are related to those intentions. The importance of sex roles was further demonstrated by the significant relationship between sex roles and students' sex, child care preferences and expectations that women would work.

The interpretation of these results suggested some potential difficulties for college students. Male and female expectations differed on most variables. Even women's own expectations appeared to be contradictory in that they expected to work continuously, have children, and not use child care services to any great extent. At the very least, the implementation of those preferences would require considerable guidance from teachers and counselors and, most of all, substantial institutional changes.

Further research in the identification, measurement and influence of sex roles was cited as necessary. The availability and implementation of child care preferences was also described as an area in need of further clarification. A final recommendation was that there is a need for longitudinal studies which identify college freshmen's career and family intentions and the extent to which they put those intentions into practice during their early and middle adult years.



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