Tuesday, August 3, 2010

personality types affect women's approach to childbirth

Susan Maushart, author of The Mask of Motherhood, discusses how women who delay motherhood may have a harder time adjusting than their younger peers. As a first-time mom at the age of 35, I can relate to this. I landed a tenure track position when I was 26, completed my Ph.D. when I was 27, obtained tenure and promotion before I turned 32, and had my first sabbatical the following year. I was able to accomplish many things, yet I always complained that there wasn't enough time in the day to do all the stuff I wanted.

As a new mom to an infant, I discovered the brutal reality of no time in the day to do anything for me by myself.

But now a new study reported here by the guardian.co.uk, suggests it wasn't just my age and the time I had had to pursue a career and get comfortable with my own space and routines that made motherhood hard for me; my personality type also seems to have something to do with it.

Apparently, high levels of "extroversion," "agreeableness" and "neuroticism" seem to accelerate the desire of a woman to have a child. Conversely, high "conscientiousness" and "openness" are associated with delaying childbirth.

(Photo: Alamy)

As someone who valued being well-organized and self-disciplined to get where I got, and who vowed never to let traditional gender roles confine me, I can see how I fit this study's findings:

"Those who scored highly on conscientiousness tended to follow the rules, to be reliable, well-organised and self-disciplined. Openness reflected an individual's tendency to unconventionality and intellect. Open-minded women tend to enjoy being unattached, free, not tied to people, places, or obligations – and may be rebellious."

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