Sunday, February 9, 2014

Women of my generation decided that the supermom thing was bogus.  We decided to stay home and raise our children.  We innocently thought that we would do our best, spend our years with our children and then go back to work.  But many have found that after even just a few years, they cannot resume the careers they left.

I have observed that many women are beginning to get the feeling that their decisions to be housewives or stay at home moms for a time may turn out to be irreversible.  It's true that some of it is possibly our "fault."  At this point in our lives, we are loathe to take shitty jobs that we might have settled for right out of college.  It's simply not worth it for us to make less to work more than the part-time and freelance gigs we have now, or go completely back to the beginning.  It is simply not worth it to drive an hour each way to work.  Women feel that their education and experience, including life experience, is valuable.  Employers, apparently, do not.

When I make a comment that, as soon as my knee is healed, I will go back to waitressing, my friends are aghast.  "Surely," they say, "you should be doing something else.  You have skills, you have talent."  That may be, but either there is not a place I fit, or there is not a need for my skills, or I am not effectively conveying those skills in my resume, my letters or my interviews.  The truth is that I really couldn't even get hired as a waitress without relying on personal connections.  Thankfully, I have a job, and one that I like.  But I am underemployed and underearning.

This whole thing makes me wonder:  What untapped talent must be quietly folding laundry and cooking dinners all across our great country?  What great minds and strong backs must be keeping schedules and running fundraisers?  I am not sad that this talent is going to the benefit of our children and our society.  But I am disappointed that when women want to go back to work, they kindof can't.  And I am concerned that the realization of this phenomenon will place women in a position where they must make a life choice at a young age:  be a mother OR have a career.

1 comment:

  1. Received via email. Thank you for your comments:

    Thanks for the thoughts from you and your friends. So, now that I am more than 10 years out of work and at retirement age I still fool myself that I might get a job again. Remember, it is a sullen job market out there for all genders and ages. Though I was probably paid below standard wages I did have a 20 yr. career in a "man's" field. Even though I had a professional license in a "women's" field and an artsy 2 yr degree, I went to school for another 2 yr degree shortcut. At that time I had 2 preschool kids and I worked 3 part time jobs. Every time the economy tanked my employer went out of business, I started over, and just as I got going, the economy faltered again. Eventually I got a 4 yr. degree in a field I loved but, couldn't get a job in. It's hard to find the blame but I KNOW if I were a 20 something male, just graduated, I would have a better chance. (Ah,but then I would be clueless). So just like show business, It's who you know. Right place at the right time. And a lot of ego.

    Still the question is: Where to go from here?

    Location is important, we also chose to put "his" job location etc ahead of ours. I would have to drive 1+ hrs into the "city" to work a real job or move to another state. Just me all by myself. Would they pay me enough to actually save for retirement?

    Women, not having big egos like men, don't have to equate their worth and identity with their job. But when we take our contented egos to the Man-world Market Place, we seem small and uncompetitive to them and THEY still do the hiring. Even if it's a woman, she's playing it like a man and probably afraid of how it would look to hire a woman.

    Teaching has always been an OK job for women (of course you had to quit when you got married). I have interviewed Professor women with doctorates and found that they have the same experiences. Most of whom have used initials, no first names, on their resumes.

    Some things come to mind:

    "Women's Work, The First 40,000 years" makes the point that women in many cultures were weavers because it was a cottage industry that one could do while cooking, cleaning, and watching the baby. Women need a modern jobs like that because 150 years ago men took over weaving, made it into a sweat shop, hired little children to work 14 hour days, and called it the "industrial revolution."

    "The Women's Room" with Lee Remick was a film about a young college woman in the 50's. She was saved from being raped at a frat party and married the guy who saved her. She didn't love him, she just didn't see any opportunities for herself. She never really had her own life 'till her kids grew up.

    I saw a POV film today on PBS about women in Kenya. The film-maker was a young woman who's father was Kenyan and her mother Korean. She interviewed her aunts and uncles. These women were not only circumcised at about 14 but, then (as was the custom) kidnapped by a man, now called her husband and essentially made a slave. That was the life of women. That was only one generation ago. Many places in the world still have similar practices. Here we really have come a long way. Things are very different for women now compared to my youth and my grandmothers, wow. But there is a looong way to go.

    Oh yea, I'm up here writing this instead of watching a movie with the family because my husband told me I have nothing meaningful to say. Must be the D.N.A.