Men have traditionally been the bread winners. There are few, if any, barriers that prevent men from obtaining training for a job, entering the job market or changing careers at some point in their lives. This is not the case for women. They have traditionally been homemakers and care givers. While single women are free to explore training and outdoor job opportunities, they are expected to give it all up once they are married or begin a family.
It is not that women aren’t competent. During both world wars, women left the home and went to work so that the men could join the armed services and fight the enemy. Thousands of women worked in the munitions, aircraft, automobile, steel and other industries. When the men came back home, women were expected to give up their jobs and return to being home makers and mothers. Women have served in some occupations and no one has ever protested their work as salesgirls, typists, telephone operators or nurses.
Modern working women
Today, women work in nearly every occupation, including astronauts, senators, physicians, surgeons, lawyers and other positions of prestige and importance. Ask any woman if it was difficult to get where she is today and she will tell you that she faced many obstacles that men do not face. Women often face discrimination before they get to their chosen occupation. In many colleges and universities, there is a lack of role models for young women. There is not a ready supply of women professors to advise female students about the benefits of networking and discovering, like men do, who can help them get their careers started.
Women will explain that it is difficult to juggle being a career woman and a mother. In many careers, there is a “mommy track” for women who want to work and be a care giver too. This career path doesn’t lead to being the head of the department or president of the company. It is a sidetrack to a job that dead ends. Why? It is because men in most fields see themselves as dedicated to their jobs. Women who want to have families are not viewed the same way. Men feel that they have lost interest in their jobs and are no longer dependable. When a crisis arises at home, women will leave their jobs and tend to their children. This is not the way, men think, to act. The paying job is all important and cannot be abandoned at any time.
For the woman returning to work after being a mother for many years, the path is hard. Unless there is need for a second income, men do not understand why their wife wants to work. There is no emotional support for them if they don’t find work in their field because men feel it’s not something they need to do. Because they have not kept up with advances in their field, women may not hired at all. If they are hired, they may shunted into a path within the industry that has no future.
Women need to find support groups, in person or online, that can help them navigate the path to getting training, getting the job and rising as far as they can within their field. The support groups can serve as mentors, providing role models and important advice on how to succeed. Women in positions of power and authority need to network with their younger colleagues and provide the assistance that they wanted when they were first starting out. With today’s computer technology, more and more people work at home. Women should learn how to use this technology to overcome the “mommy track.” Women need to help other women succeed.