The challenge women face in this era: profession or family?
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
The biggest and longest war fought was amidst our daily lives. Unknown to others, women all around the world have fought the right to be treated as men’s equal. This right, even though thought fundamental, escaped women’s reach for centuries. Even today, we live in a society that thinly veils and portrays the inferiority of women. To all those attentive enough, this portrayal comes to light for what it is: the discrimination of women and the place they hold. The role of women has changed and evolved during the years. One of the toughest challenges faced by women in this era is to be recognized as men’s equal in their career choices, to hold executive positions, and to abolish stereotype of a “good caregiver”.
For a long time, the women’s position has been very clear, as to being the nurturer, caretaker, and the obedient housewife. With new revolution, women have taken more and more seats in university benches and have sought out successful careers that define them. Even to this day, despite the working woman status, if she is not as involved and present in the household, she will be considered a bad mother and a bad wife.
A recent article posted in Forbes is an excellent example of the underlying impression that the society has if a woman is goal-oriented and aggressive in achieving a status in a “man’s world”. This article urges men to marry “pretty women or ugly ones, short ones or tall ones, blondes or brunettes, just whatever you [men] do, don’t marry a woman with a career”. Albeit the article posted right next to it, in which a woman colleague of this author argues against his point; these types of statements, or thoughts, simply do not help the case of women attempting to put into perspective the struggles they have faced alongside the men they work with, and also in their daily work environment.
In this article, we can see a few statistics as to the divorce rates increasing for a career-woman. It needs to be underlined it takes two people to marry and to divorce. However, this article conveniently covers that the problem is the “career-woman”. The statistics in itself is not wrong, but the underlying message published for the world to see is evident: do not marry an over-achieving woman, because it will end in divorce. The career-woman is described as any woman working a full-time job (35 hours or more per week) and making more than 30 000$. The article does not speak of a woman holding an executive position, or a CEO of a company, but any woman making more than 30 000$. That is the average salary for any person working at, for example, a call-center. Thus, it seems that the term “professional woman,” seems to be very large in this article.
It can be said that women have faced extreme discrimination and clawed their way to decent education, and slowly into the working-world. Also adding to these challenges, there is pressure to procreate and to hold a happy family life. This can be indeed strenuous. Furthermore, the message of the Forbes article implies that a woman cannot have a career and a family, because that is impossible. However, for centuries men have done both, and of course, it is not difficult for them.
The error in this message, or the positive message that needs to be spoken but lacked, was that despite both couples being career-oriented, the man also needs to contribute in the household chores. As elegantly puts by his colleague in her article, “The experts cited in his story think that professional women are more likely to get divorced, […]. But rather than rush to blame the woman, let’s not overlook the other key variable: What is the guy doing?” At this current time, the majority of the women who work, are still the primary caretakers of the home, despite their long hours at work. I know this was the case in my household. Both my parents would work, once they arrived home, my father would be on the couch, and my mother is in the kitchen preparing our dinner, cleaning, going over the next day’s meal plan. On weekends, she was the one loading up the laundry and going grocery shopping.
The roles men and women play are social constructs. We, as the younger generation, have an obligation to deconstruct this assumption and persevere through these hardships. It cannot be done with the voice of a woman alone, we need men to stand by our side as well. Only with the help of an ally will a woman be able to succeed in her personal life and her professional one, just as a man has done for centuries now. Would he have had the capacity to hold a profession and strive in his career, if a woman was not behind the scenes doing household chore and taken care of his children? He would not have. Now that women have equal rights, and are exercising these rights, there are those who do not simply want to start a family. The woman is then blamed for having the audacity to acquire an education and then, using the education she has spent money, time, and effort on in pursuit of a professional career.