Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

St. Clair, Robert N.

Author's Keywords

Self-identity; Social constructionism; Epistemic rupture; Post-structural feminism; Corporate businesswomen; American women history


Businesswomen--United States--History--20th century; Women, White--United States--History--20th century; Businesswomen--United States--Psychology; Women, White--United States--Psychology; Self-perception in women--United States


The purpose of this cross-disciplinary dissertation is to explore how the epistemic ruptures, such as WWII and the Second Wave Feminism, change the American society between 1963 and 1985. From a humanistic and historical point of view, it focuses on (l) the "self-identity" of modern white American corporate businesswomen (WACB) between 1963 and 1985, (2) the change of their self-identity in comparison with the historical period between 1920 and 1963, and (3) how their self-identity is socially and culturally constructed by analyzing evidence from 3 disciplines-historiography, literature, and popular culture. The major theories used for the hermeneutic interpretation of the cultural evidence include the Identity theories, Social Constructionism, and post -structural Feminism. The results show that the self-identity of the white American corporate businesswomen between 1963 and 1985 has changed. First, in the attitude toward their work, businesswomen began to seek long-term careers in the business world, the traditional man's word, rather than just regarding their work as a temporary job which they would give up if there were enough income from their husbands; instead, they believe that they can find great satisfaction in careers. Second, in their relationship with their families, businesswomen tended to believe that they should "have it all" by wearing all the hats of full-time wives, mothers, and career women, which means that they wanted to find great satisfaction in careers without ignoring their mates and/or their children. Third, in their relationship with their male counterparts, especially those in the workplace, they have changed from supporters of businessmen to businesswomen themselves who worked hard to be respected for their skills and abilities. As Betty Friedan states in her book The Second Stage (1998), the old problems of balancing the social roles of wives, mothers and workers still exist and the Feminism theories have not found a solution. As we know, the women's movement still has a long way to go in the search of a solution. The last chapter of this dissertation claims that the Third Wave Feminism, led by Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray, may serve as another epistemic rupture in the new era, which gives us some new hope for the solution.