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Your Feminism or Your Job

December 30, 2011

In pictorial homage to yesterday’s post on little girls and Lego toys here’s another fantastic Lego figurine. Of course it’s stereotypical in its “mad scientist” vibe (and obviously not female, right?) But I still think it’s fun, or as fun as 90s Europop icon Haddaway playing off the mad scientist meme in my nostalgic post from last week.

But I wanted to pay some real homage to some great posts I’ve been catching up on in Ye Olde Blogosphere where some of my favorite contemporary female bloggers are asking some great questions about women and work.

Ashley Faus over at Consciously Corporate asks whether if you dress too stylishly will it be too “cute” or too feminine and whether that will undermine how seriously you are taken at work. I thought this was very interesting. I went a long time not wearing a skirt at work. I wasn’t, in my opinion, dressing like a man. I was still wearing women’s button up shirts, women’s slacks, and women’s flats. But when I wore a skirt for the first time in a while another female remarked that I was “actually dressed like a woman” with some surprise. And I do think, unfortunately, there is some dividing line whereby if you are dressed stylishly that must be all your brain is good for. You obviously can not be technically proficient. But of course dress too non-feminine and you are one of those women and might be just as often ignored. So really there’s no winning.

Over at Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured Nicole and Maggie are talking about a niece and how to give her access to a community college, her closest and only viable shot at higher education, and how to help her pull herself out of the small town and class that she’s in.

I am having similar concerns about a young lady in my family (though without the class complications) who on the one hand I’m very proud has taken an interest in marine biology despite having some typical anti-math attitudes you might expect in a very feminine teenaged girl. Yet I didn’t feel quite up to contradicting her when asked how much marine biologists make and she cited something in the 6 figures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook has even a special warning for marine biologists under the biological scientist section:

Prospective marine biology students should be aware that those who would like to enter this specialty far outnumber the very few openings that occur each year for the type of glamorous research jobs that many would like to obtain. Almost all marine biologists who do basic research have a Ph.D.

Over at Funny About Money the author makes a modest proposal for higher education. Two year vocational programs that would train one for an entry level job with the ability to then continue on to a bachelor’s degree in any focus after the completion. I think it’s brilliant. Funny admits this would probably mean many would complete the program and take the “job” rather than going on a BA or BS. But how is that any worse than today she asks? And in the comment section it comes up how all these potential students seem to think their degree is the ticket to financial security by picking numbers from “average wage” rather than starting wage.  I am sure this is where my family member plucked these magical numbers from.

I also like Funny’s suggestion as someone who got a BA prior to my engineering degree. Besides having a better command of spelling and grammar than many of my fellow engineers I feel enriched from my liberal arts education. My major was so short on units I had to take all sorts of classes in history, philosophy and music in order to graduate. And I don’t regret any of those classes. I’m not suggesting everyone have the same interests but for those who would like to take these classes to round out an otherwise vocational degree (like engineering) it would be an excellent opportunity. In fact I’d like to see it a step further. I’d like to see society value these classes and this kind of knowledge well into adulthood. We may still argue politics in public spaces but we don’t often argue philosophy and very rarely economic theory. We’ve become a very two dimensional society of left versus right. People like to make throwback mentions to the “founding fathers” but many of them were arguing the merits of Rousseau and Locke. We’ve gotten to the point where Plato’s Republic might be assigned reading in some college programs but neither it nor the Peloponnesian War are looked at as philosophical foundations of our society but rather as boring books we make kids read.

So hats off to the ladies of the blogosphere for asking the important questions this week and inspiring my own philosophical musings.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2011 5:26 pm

    Thanks for the props!

  2. December 31, 2011 3:28 pm

    Thanks for the kind mention!

    OMG, one of my authors is a conservative celeb who likes to write about the “founding fathers” and their (doughty but often troublesome) little wives. Augh. What will we do for pay?

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