Women have made many strides in the workforce, but has it come at a price?
“Anything you can do, I can do better…”
As white-collar professions have gained popularity in the workforce, thinking and communicating have become more important than physical strength and stamina as a prerequisite to be a breadwinner. With this change, countries that have embraced both genders in the workforce have seen advancements in the economies. As a result of the political dominance of these female empowered countries, such as the United States, the global community has ostracized countries that have not provided rights for women.
“In 2006, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development devised the Gender, Institutions and Development Database, which measures the economic and political power of women in 162 countries. With few exceptions, the greater the power of women, the greater the country’s economic success [emphasis added].”
There has been a direct correlation between women in the workforce and economic health. Women have been given the choice to work outside the home, alongside their male counterparts, and are creating vast economic advancements as a result.
In the 1970’s, Ronald Ericsson, a biologist, found a way to separate sperm carrying the male-producing Y chromosome from those carrying the X. He was a strong, cowboy from the South, born and bred, and subscribed to the notion that most couples wanted boys over girls.
Years later in the 1990’s, Ericsson checked the numbers of two dozen or so clinics that use his process, and found that his methods were being used to produce girls, not boys! Ericsson explained “it’s the women who are driving all the decisions”. For the first time in history, women have been given a voice in society, and career opportunities that allow them to believe that they can give their girls a higher quality of life than they ever imagined for themselves. “Women of our generation want daughters precisely because we like who we are,” said one woman in Cookie magazine.
What Have Women Lost?
While women have gained much as they entered the workforce, there is a lot that they have had to sacrifice. Women are now falling sick to the same ailments that have predominantly plagued men, because they are taking on the stress of working outside the home.
Women now have to deal with the stress of taking care of a home, child rearing, and pressures from the working world. While women have gained the right to work outside the home, their home-life responsibilities have not waned. Most women are over worked, under-paid (in comparison to their male counterparts), and under appreciated. It is assumed that a woman lacks commitment to her job, because she will eventually leave the position for a husband and a family.
As a young business woman, how do we deal with the pressures of life that are inexplicably looming?
The Role of a Young Business Professional
For women, it is important to define what you want in life. When you do not have an understanding of who you are, and what you want, others can easily sway you. From a very young age, I wrote down a list of “non-negotiables”; everything from the type of person I wanted to marry one day, to the kind of life I wanted to lead.
In my senior year of high school, I had a sociology teacher who had the class right down what our career aspirations were, and where we saw our lives heading. We placed our letters in an envelope, addressed them to ourselves, and then left the letters with her.
One year later, our teacher mailed our letters to us. I was just finishing up my first year of university, and had recently made the decision to switch my major from Journalism to Business Leadership. It was interesting to see how one year made such a huge difference in the way I thought about life (except for when it came to what type of man I wanted to marry, that has been an unwavering constant).
While women have made amazing strides in business, in some ways we have lost more than we have gained. While we have won the right to work outside the home, we have also seen families struggle to stay connected in our digitally consumed, 24/7 world. At the end of the day, how you decide to live your life is your choice, a choice that you make every day.
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything!
by Brienne Torley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.