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Online Book Club Chapter Eleven: Work In The Real World

December 9, 2009 | Annemarie

Chapter Eleven discusses the topic of work:

In politically correct TV-land, most women have high powered jobs today: they’re lawyers, surgeons, or impeccably dressed advertising executives. In the real word, most women hold less than thrilling — and surprisingly traditional — jobs. Women are thriving in America’s education system and, in the years to come, will increasingly enter into and excel in all industries and professions. But it’s important for women to have a realistic idea of the role that work plays in most women’s lives.

TV has painted a picture of the ideal work-life for women, Lukas uses the story of Rachel Green
from Friends as an example:

In the early episodes, Rachel arrived at Central Perk coffee house to join the rest of the gang as a spoiled rich girl from Long Island who left her fiance at the alter. She was prepared for no activity other than shopping. She got her first job waitressing at Central Perk, and even when she finally breaks into fashion, she’s shown once again making coffee for the boss. By the end of the series, Rachel has transformed into a high powered fashion executive. When she gives birth to her child, she cuts short her maternity leave out of concern that she’s losing prestige within her office. In the concluding episodes, Rachel considers moving to Paris with her baby (away from Ross, the baby’s father) for a new job. Even though ultimately Rachel opts to stay in New York (presumably to live happily ever after with Ross and in a higher-paying job), her basic personae is of an ambitious career woman.

Over the past thirty-four years there has been a 50 percent increase of women in the work
force. Lukas attributes this massive women’s workforce expansion to the women’s movement:

While many events contributed to this social trend, the women’s movement played a critical role in encouraging the change. Betty Friedan’s watershed book, The Feminist Mystique, challenged women to consider taking on roles outside of housewife and mother. Feminists fought against social biases that prevented women from competing and succeeding in fields life medicine, science, politics, and the law. Today, their success is obvious. Women are thriving in industries and professions that just decades ago were almost exclusively the domain of men.

Work does play an important role in women’s lives, however, according to The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press women value time with friends and loved ones over career and work:

Women regardless of their living situation, rate relationships with loved ones as their greatest source of personal happiness and fulfillment.

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