Mother-daughter pairs help FDU’s Krista Jenkins explore gender roles


FDU Professor Krista Jenkins discusses her gender role research, focusing on 23 mother-daughter pairs and their reactions to the Women's Movement. (Photo by Dan Landau)

By Kenna Caprio

Along with her mentor Roberta S. Sigel, Fairleigh Dickinson University Professor Krista Jenkins set out to answer a complicated question about women through a series of interviews with mothers and daughters.

The question, “how do women today understand what it means to live in defiance of gender roles,” sparked honest, detailed and sometimes surprising answers from a group of 46 women: 23 mothers and their daughters.

Both groups of women attended Rutgers’ Douglass College 25 years apart — the  mothers who were interviewed attended Douglass in the mid-1970s and their daughters in the mid-1990s.

One of the tasks that faced Jenkins in her data analysis was to determine “the influence of a mother versus the influence of a generation” in the daughters’ answers. More often than not, the answers the daughters gave reflected some of the same language as their mothers’ answers did.

The questions presented to the women covered the Women’s Movement, gender roles and private life, gender roles and public life and gender roles and political activism.

Overwhelmingly, women of both generations agreed that women “can’t have it all at once,” because of the difficulty of balancing domestic and career responsibilities and goals.

All of Jenkins’ findings on gender roles will be published in a forthcoming book.

During the question and answer session, Jenkins talks candidly about the terms “post-feminist world,” and says those words “indicate that we’re beyond it,” and that society considers “feminism as passé.” But, she says, she sees feminism happening now, “it’s everywhere,” and that “there’s only so much that you can rely on the government to change things.” 

Jenkins spoke in Lenfell Hall as part of PublicMind’s “Politics on the PublicMind” series and as part of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

The next "Politics" event continues the Women's History Month theme, featuring NJ Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter. Sumter will speak on March 8 in Lenfell Hall, Hennessy Hall.

For Immediate Release

FDU Office of Public Relations

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Kenna Caprio,
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Daniel Landau,
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