Document Type

Honors Project


Research has demonstrated that work is a meaningful activity that contributes to peoples' identities. This meaning, however, may depend on the stage of the life course that one is in, and may be gendered. To contribute to understanding the social meaning of work and potentially gendered life-course transitions, I examine the experiences of older adults with work and retirement. Through interviews with both retired and working older adults, I examine whether and how older men and women differ from each other in the workplace and in retirement. Men and women face different challenges if they continue to work and when they retire from formal work. One might assume that workplace identity would tend to be more important to men’s formal, public sense of purpose and self-identity than it is to women, who are more likely to find that home holds a “second shift” of work that is equally important to their identity. I explain how the primary difference found between men and women is the importance of work to self-identity. This difference affects how each gender approaches when to retire, and what is done during retirement. What was surprising, however, was the lack of gender differences in terms of life satisfaction post-retirement, as previous theory would suggest gender differences in all regards of work and the workplace.



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