The Economist recently published an article about the female workforce, Women and Work: We did it!
It’s of course a report of mixed conclusions; aspects of the shift in gender dynamics in the workplace worthy of celebration and aspects necessitating change. I think the point that the author misses in this article- and we miss in our discussions of gender in the workplace in general- is that it should not simply be about whether women can work, but whether they can be who they are.
In the past, some women who wanted to work or move upward in their jobs were laughed out of the office. Today, some women who would rather stay home with their children, must work to support their families. In the movie Mona Lisa Smile, the idea that heroine, Julia Roberts, missed was that her agenda should not be that every woman at Wellesley go to law school or get a great job, but that every woman have the choice to do so if they wished.
Yes, it’s great that women are entering the workforce more than ever before. Yes, it’s a shame that women are still kept from the highest positions and making lower wages for the same work as men. But the key point is that women finally have the option of succeeding professionally if they choose to. And yes, I do think that is something to celebrate.