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Women: Their Careers and Family Lives Essay


Introduction

At present, many researchers still focus on inequality between females and males in their career lives. However, job opportunities for genders are largely equal now and it is possible to state that the choice of the path depends on the person. Thus, lots of women focus on their career and find their life satisfying.

Other females are more concerned with their family lives and do not strive for higher positions within companies. It is also possible to trace development of new attitudes towards roles within the family. Thus, several decades ago women were supposed to spend more time with their families doing housework and looking after children. At the same time, men were supposed to work and they hardly helped their wives about the house.

Now men are more helpful and it is a normal practice when a man does certain housework. These trends are apparent when talking to women of different ages. Importantly, it is clear that now roles acquired by women largely depend on their own choice, their personality and their occupational success rather than on societal conventions and prejudice.

Comparison of the Two Women

The present paper is based on the data obtained during two interviews with two women. One of these women is Janice, 69, who works half-time in a dry clean shop. The other woman is Ann, 36, who is a manager of an apartment. Both women are married. Janice has two children and she also has five grandchildren.

Ann does not have children but she has “fur-babies”, three dogs. Both women changed jobs, but they had different reasons to do that. Notably, the women think that their careers did not intrude in their family life and vice versa. It is also important to add that both women have good relationships with their husbands and they have not had serious quarrels because of their careers.

However, there are quite many differences between the women and their paths, especially when it comes to their careers. The major difference is concerned with their priorities. Thus, Janice is focused on her family while Ann is concentrated on her career more.

Janice decided to work-part time to spend more time with her children and she also spent several years at home while her second child was little. However, Ann does not have children and she does not plan to have children in the nearest future. She has not changed jobs to spend more time at home but she was looking for better opportunities for her career development. Ann strives for promotion and success in her career life.

The women’s relationships with their husbands also differ. Thus, Janice has a typical for the twentieth century attitude towards marriage and gender roles within the family. In other words, she does all the housework and she used to take care of their children. Janice does not see anything wrong about this type of roles.

On the contrary, Ann does not do all the housework. Her husband does the cooking and she does the washing-up. Ann admits that her husband helps her about the house whenever he has time. She also adds that there are no specific roles in their family.

Key Factor That Contributed to the Women’s Choice

Priorities

It is necessary to note that several decades ago women did face many constraints as there were specific gender roles, but in the twenty-first century women have more opportunities and their careers depend on their personalities and their desires (Hakim 290). What is more, now women tend to strive for their career development more.

For instance, Hakim argues that nowadays “the differences between men and women’s career goals are smaller than sometimes thought” (279). Many women are not concerned with creating families and try to succeed in their career lives.

Notably, there is such term as “glass ceiling” that refers to the opinion that women are less committed to succeed in their jobs, and, therefore, less “promotable” (qtd. in Correll et al. 1334). Researchers admit that in many cases women have to face issues associated with the glass ceiling effect (Forret & Dougherty 420).

However, now many women manage to go through the glass ceiling. Many women believe that there is no significant prejudice in working places. Ann states that she has never felt that gender intruded in her career life. Likewise, Janice also states that she has never experienced any kind of inequality or oppression associated with gender.

At this point, it is important to note that the women have different priorities which became crucial in their lives. Thus, Janice’s priority was her family and taking care of her children. She did not strive for promotion.

On the contrary, she stayed at home for several years until her younger child could go to the kindergarten and she started a part-time job to spend more time with her kids. Janice did not feel anyone prevented her from achieving some tops in her workplace. She felt there were equal opportunities for her and other women. She felt she had chances to achieve more, but she did not want to.

Individual Choices

Janice can be regarded as a good proof of a persistent idea that women tend to be more concerned with their homes, not careers (Chiodo & Owyang 8). Thus, Chiodo and Owyang note that married women and working mothers even get lower wages as they are believed to be less committed (7). Janice is an example of a woman who is not committed to her career life but is eager to spend as much time with her family as possible.

At the same time, Ann is an example of a married woman who is committed to succeed in her career life. Notably, Ann claims that she has never felt she was underestimated or somehow oppressed due to her gender. Importantly, she pertains to the group of women who are not regarded as less productive as she is more than 28 and she does not have children (Chiodo and Owyang 7). Employers tend to focus on professional skills and experience of women pertaining to this group.

Ann reported that sometimes she had to work long hours and her husband did not like that. However, she added that it was not a big problem, so she never let down her employer and her family life never affected her career. Ann’s case can be regarded as a certain explanation to the changing trend. Thus, employers tend to see women as equally committed employees as a lot of females have started concentrating on their career lives rather than on their families.

It is important to note that individual choices are often regarded as micro level factors. However, when it comes to gender-related issues in workplace, individual choice has become a crucial macro level factor. Several decades ago women were focused on their families and (in the vast majority of cases) they did not strive for promotion. Nowadays there is a new trend and women become more concerned with their careers. In other words, individual choices women make influence the overall situation on the global scale.

Another Key Factor: Occupational Success

Janice

As has been mentioned above, it is believed that many females have to face certain constraints in their workplaces due to their gender, but the women interviewed did not report about any gender-related issues, which can be also explained by their position in the workplace. Both females do not occupy very high posts and it is possible to assume that there is not serious competition. Janice worked at a university and had a half-time job, which does not presuppose any high posts.

Some time ago she started working for her husband (to help their business develop) and here she could not face any gender-related oppression or even any significant competition. Janice is one of those women who “sacrifice” their wages and their success in workplace as they want to remain “flexible” to spend more time with their family (Chiodo and Owyang 7).

Therefore, the fact that Janice did not face any significant gender-related constraints does not mean women who strive for career development and occupy higher posts do not face such issues.

Ann

Ann has a slightly different situation. She wants to succeed in her career life. She changed jobs four or five times as she was not satisfied with the way her bosses treated her. Now Ann is a manager and this post cannot be regarded as high. Again, there is not much competition for Ann. Importantly, Halrynjo and Lyng have explored experiences of Norwegian married women and working mothers and the researchers note that even in such developed country as Norway women occupying higher posts face a number of constraints (337).

Women who strive for promotion have to work longer hours and tend to spend less time at home. It is possible to state that women tend to acquire male’s attitude towards career and family life. Women are no longer focused on their family life as they want to succeed in other areas of the contemporary social life.

General Trends

In conclusion, it is possible to state that there are no specific gender roles in the contemporary society. Women strive for succeeding in their professional life. Females are no longer satisfied with the role of the wife and the mother. Interviews with the two women made it possible to define major factors that contribute to development of the existing trends. In the first place, individual choices made by women make it clear that there is certain shift in gender roles.

Individual choices largely depend on trends existing in the society. On the other hand, experiences of the two women also suggest that gender-related issues are unlikely to occur if the post occupied is not high. Thus, gender-related issues occur when competition increases. On balance, it is possible to note that the situation has changed quite significantly since the twentieth century and gender roles are changing now.

Works Cited

Chiodo, Abbigail J. and Michael T. Owyang. “Marriage, Motherhood and Money: How Do Women’s Life Decisions Influence Their Wages.” The Regional Economist. Apr. 2003: 5-9. Print.

Correll, Shelley T., Stephen Benard and In Palk. “Getting a Job: Is There a Motherhood Penalty.” American Journal of Sociology 112.5 (2007): 1297-1339. Print.

Forret, Monica L. and Thomas W. Dougherty. “Networking Behaviors and Career Outcomes: Differences for Men and Women.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 25.1 (2004): 419-437. Print.

Hakim, Catherine. “Women, Careers, and Work-Life Preferences.” British Journal of Guidance & Counseling 34.3 (2006): 279-294. Print.

Halrynjo, Sigtona and Selma Therese Lyng. “Preferences, Constraints or Schemas of Devotion? Exploring Norwegian Mothers’ Withdrawals from High-Commitment Careers.” The British Journal of Sociology 60.2 (2009): 321-343. Print.

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