11/15/12

GENTLY GUIDING a woman to a career


I know younger women don't fully grasp the way it used to be, that their options were limited, but when you came of age the number one career choice was always supposed to be wife and mother. If you didn't want to quickly go down that path you had a few other options: secretary, nurse, stewardess, teacher, fashion. Those were the career paths you were to choose from. You'd then neatly fit in the box that society had created for you. For those of us who did not follow those suggestions we faced a lot of head shaking and at times ignorant pity. You had to learn to shrug it off and follow the path you wanted. These days there are virtually no paths blocked for women. If you're passionate about it, go for it.

Now, I don't look at women's magazines, or specifically magazines for teens, anymore so I don't know what is advertised in the back pages where the ads are cheapest.

In the November 1970 Mademoiselle they were still pushing you towards the big 6 (marriage, secretary, nurse, stewardess, teacher, fashion) even though the world was rapidly changing for women.







There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of these career choices. What was wrong was believing that these were the only choices. I saw it happen to a friend who longed to go to college, but was informed by her father that only sons went to college. Her dreams were stifled before she had a chance to make choices. She became a secretary. Another wanted to be a doctor but was told by her father that girls weren't doctors. She became a nurse. One was happy with her choice, the other wasn't.

This isn't to say that young men weren't also corraled into jobs for a variety of reasons; it's just that the doors weren't shut before they even stood in front of them.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Stephanie, I found the email link but it is telling me that it will subscribe me to the comments on this page, not the posts. Thanks for trying. I will see if I can add you to a general blog reader and get your posts that way with a bit of luck. This is a very cool and thought provoking post by the way. Katherine Griffiths

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  2. I found where I could get the "follow through email" link and it is now posted. Hope this helps.

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  3. I remember these ads very well. Used to love Mademoiselle and the big fat back to school issue in the fall. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

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    1. Oh yes, the delicious thick back to school issues. I have several from Seventeen in the '60s. I look through them and all sorts of emotions come racing back. Silly old magazines have me time traveling.

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  4. Oboy, does this post bring back memories! I wanted to be a civil engineer...my high school guidance counselor laughed in my face; he said I couldn't do that -- girls aren't good enough in math! OMG, have times changed!!!!

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  5. Felix0912/03/2012

    In times of long ago, sadly, males being forced into careers they did not want was just as bad as females being excluded. A middle or upper class young male in say 1950 was expected to become a doctor, lawyer or high-ranking executive. Yet, relatively few doctors, lawyers and executives actually wanted be what they were "forced" into being. Males, in general, could not follow their dreams any more than females. No matter what, by a reasonable age a male was expected to be married with children and in a good-paying, "accceptable" career appropriate for his social class -- if not he was an embarrassment to his family. And the main reason a man did not want his wife to work for any reason was because society as a whole [including his own friends, relatives and in-laws] would consider him a bad provider and thus a failure as a man. In the "good old days" men had it no better than did women. Both sexes had long lists of "do's and don'ts." Much has since changed for women but relatively little has changed for men. Most of the traditional expectations for men still apply.

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    1. Indeed, it was a cookie cutter world. But I have to say that as a young girl looking for any role models there weren't any beyond the narrow. As the daughter of a Naval aviator I knew even that world was closed to me. When I chose to go to art college, even in the late 1960s, there were a lot of raised eyebrows in the neighborhood.

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