Women, Girls and Practical Choices

By my estimation – where girls, women and feminism are – we have not come that far. I have a nagging sense that the competitive burdens being heaped on young women to gain admission to the most elite colleges, professional schools and the like represents a long, arduous route to old story of university as finishing school. Makes good evolutionary sense. The more competitive the university, the smarter the students, and very likely – the better the genetic endowment of the students at the most elite universities. Makes for some good breeding opportunities.

So folks go into university to find themselves, have fun, fall in love. And I can think of no better purpose for university. It’s basically a big party with some philosophy classes thrown in. It is a time of self-exploration at a critical developmental juncture. This is obviously not always the case – where I work, an urban state university, well over 75% of our students are holding multiple jobs, raising families etc. – no time for homecoming and study abroad for them.

However, as a society, we view the college years as key career development years – a time to choose a major from which a subsequent career will grow (though it rarely eventuates that way – in general college is time served – a degree reveals that a person was able to stick it out for 4-6 years and remain moderately functional). Some choose majors from a practical standpoint – finance, engineering – majors that guarantee solid starting salaries out the gate. Some choose majors as preparation for a longer term educational path (medical or law school). And some choose something they are simply interested in – art, music, philosophy, history.

If it is meant to be a time of self-exploration, I believe it is critical a student choose a major area of study that is aligned with her interests and passion. However, this may not always translate into employment, especially in a challenging economy.

So as an educator and a woman I issue one other entreaty for women to consider.

Get a credential.

What do I mean by a credential? I mean a license to practice a skill, a license that is typically overseen by a governmental or regulatory board, and this can range from a license to practice medicine, nursing, cosmetology, law, real estate. A license is typically garnered after a course of study, apprenticed experience in the field, and almost always requires passing an exam. Once you have the credential, it is typically necessary to keep it current by paying a fee, attending continuing education or through some other means of remaining current in a field.

Women still believe in the tired dream of finding a man to take care of them. It’s not my place to rain on their parade – life will do that soon enough. And maybe they will find true lasting love, or sufficient parting gifts should the relationship end. Statistically speaking – a fairly significant proportion of these unions will not work out. And the less qualified the woman is when she enters a marriage or committed relationship, the less likely she will be able to adequately support herself when it all goes tits up.

So ladies – before you go trolling for an Mrs. before your name, work on getting some initials after your name. Mothers – raise your girls to be providers. Imagine if girls grew up believing that someday they would have to support a husband and kids- kind of switches up the paradigm a bit. Hell – I hope all of you collegiate sweethearts disprove the jaded love cynic in me – I love love. However – I also love a good Plan B.


This entry was posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010 at 9:29 am and is filed under Relationships and Sex. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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