Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where do you work?

I write a lot about Title IX and its impact on Gen X men and women. One interesting impact is this generation of adult women has a need to have a work-defined title – just like men do.

For example, about a year ago I had decided to leave my job as a marketing manager because I was miserable. I had not found another job yet, but was planning on filling the income void by writing and adjunct teaching. However, I was really anxious about what I would tell people I do, because I didn’t have one “real” job. When I did get an actual “job” 1 week after I left the old one, a lot of the relief was that I would know what to tell people.

Another example is a friend of mine. She spent nearly 20 years as an accountant and had significantly worked her way up the corporate ladder. However, for the last two years she has made the decision to stay home with her kids. Recently, her 7-year-old daughter made a family picture at school and part of it read “This is my mom. She has no job.” It wasn’t a traumatic experience for my friend, but you could tell it stung.

I think our generation of women is the first to really have that need to define ourselves through our work, rather than by our marital status or children. It’s not that our families are not the top priority – they are – but there’s also this part of us who want to say “I’m a professor” or “I’m a doctor” or whatever. It’s always been like this for men.

I find this interesting because when I was growing up I had friends whose mothers worked, but I don’t know what any of them did. But I always knew what all the dads did.


Kristina said...

So true! That's one reason I continued freelancing after quitting the full-time reporting gig. Yeah, it was a tiny bit of income and getting out into the grown-up world and keeping my skills sharp, blah blah. But a big part of me was VERY glad to have an answer for "what do you do?" All along I was also writing short stories and novels but that's not much of an answer either if you haven't been published. I'm also happy I can now add "author" to the list, but for a long time I never mentioned the creative writing to anyone who asked.

Anonymous said...

Wow! How do you know what's going on in my head? A big reason I'm hesitating to make a career change is that I can't quite label what I want to do. And I tend to judge people as pretentious who put 5 titles on themselves - you know the person who says I'm Mary - wife, mother, accountant, PTA president and oh forget it I stopped listening.