Statistics show that women live longer than men, and that they constitute a substantial majority of the North American population over age 50. But more research has been done on the lives of older men, and the lack of empirical data on aging women has perpetuated a number of myths and stereotypes. Twenty years ago, for example, there was a presumption that only males worked and only males retired, though women often held jobs outside the home and these jobs were sometimes their only source of income. Studies of retirement, therefore, rarely treated the experience of women. Many fallacies still remain, despite a growing body of research conducted by women investigators. This reference provides a comprehensive overview of current research on women and aging and helps correct many mistaken assumptions. Chapters are written by expert contributors and are grouped in several broad sections. The first section provides a historical and theoretical perspective on women and aging and covers topics such as sexism and ageism, representations of older women in the arts, and the attitudes of society toward aging women. The second section treats ecomic issues related to employment and retirement. The third section explores the psychological and physical health of women and includes related information on topics such as voluntarism and religious activity. The fourth section looks at the particular concerns of women from diverse racial and ethnic groups. It also includes a chapter on the special needs of the rural elderly. The final section studies the relationships of older women, including the impact of widowhood and the significance of friendship patterns. Each chapter cites current research and the volume closes with a selected bibliography of major studies.
JEAN M. COYLE is President of Jean Coyle Associates, a gerontological consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia. She founded the first academic gerontology program in the state of Louisiana in 1976 and has taught at universities throughout the United States. She has been Secretary of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, National President of Sigma Phi Omega gerontology honor society, and a founder and president of the Southwest Society on Aging. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and the author of Women and Aging: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography (1989) and Families and Aging: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography (1991), both published by Greenwood Press.