On women and working

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Today, I heard a fact: out of the 20 world’s richest women on Forbe’s rich list, only one of them, Wu Lajun – a former journalist, engineering graduate and real estate developer, did not inherit her money from either her husband or father.

While I don’t mean to discredit these women, many of them are now running companies they inherited or contributing to charity etc, I found it surprising that the idea of being a self-made million/billionaire is a title almost exclusively reserved for men.

In my family, my mother is the one who has held the traditional “breadwinner” role. Both of my parents work, I mean no disrespect to my father, who is one of the hardest working people I know, but in our family, traditional gender rules have not applied.

My ex-boyfriend was in a similar situation, his mother was in a position with a higher earning potential than his father’s. By the time their fifth child came along, it made more sense for his father to be the stay at home with the children, while his mother went to work. And this worked for them.

These days, it is almost impossible for a family or a young couple to get by without both partners working. More women are entering into education than would have been the case in our grandparents’ generation. I’m currently a student, in a very male-dominated discipline. Out of 200 in our year, there are 15 females.

vintage housewife

For someone like me, having the mother that I do and studying a science, the idea of being the ideal Stepford wife is bizarre. I can’t imagine being the perfect wife that has an immaculate house, perfect hair and dinner on the table when Hubby gets home. I commend the women who manage to keep a home and a career, but on a personal level, I can’t imagine feeling fulfilled not pursuing my own dreams and career aspirations.

I once knew a girl who placed a large amount of importance of finding a “rich guy”. She would meticulously plan her weekends, mapping out what she considered the swankiest cocktail bars in the city, choosing them by prices, neighbourhood or location to large banking firms. Her outfits would be planned to the last detail and she’d have an entire sugar daddy scenario planned out in her head. The last I heard, she was still single and unemployed.

For the women on this Rich List, I don’t know any of these women personally or what contributions they have made to the career and successes of the men in their lives, but I do have to wonder, for people like the girl I knew, why are some women still focusing on finding a “provider”, rather than being a provider for themselves?

Marrying rich is all well and good, but given that almost 50% of marriages these days end in divorce, what happens if you call time on your relationship, and all you’re left with is some handbags and a souvenir shotglass from that fancy trip to Antigua last summer?

toys-gender

Little boys are given Lego and Meccano and things to build with and create something with. Little girls are given pretty Barbies and kiddie makeup sets with weird peel-off nail polish. Men are shown magazines with other men with high flying jobs, fast women and pretty cars (or is it the other way round?), while women are told how they can ‘please yo’ man’ or how to lose weight, perfect their eyeliner or what clothes they should be wearing right now.

Even amongst women I know personally, there are still quite a few who place importance on looking pretty, on finding a man, on losing weight, but these same women don’t ever speak of their own career aspirations or longer term plans. I just find it difficult to see why women don’t think more highly of themselves and want more for themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking anyone here. There are plenty of women who just don’t know what they want to do and haven’t figured it out yet, or women who choose to be mothers or choose different kind of routes for themselves, and whatever makes someone happy – that’s fine. But I do think women should be given more encouragement and believe that they can do whatever they want to do.

There are some truly amazing women out there, and I’d just like to see more.

As ever though, these are just my own views, and it’s an interesting topic – if any of you agree, disagree, have an argument or have your own experiences, I’m always interested to hear it, so please do drop me a comment!

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