Why Women Work - It's Not What You Would Think.

by Sharon Hill


It’s true that our ideal American lifestyle - with all its luxury perks like big houses, yearly vacations, vehicles and the latest stuff– requires a two income family. But, do women work outside the home just to achieve that standard?


Not me. I believe that explaining the sea change from conventional stay-at-home Moms to working Moms is far more complicated than that. It has little to do with what society expects of a middle class family but more to do with what society would expect of every able citizen and, what a person expects of herself.


I had no intention of marrying young (which I did anyway) or counting on motherhood to be my reason for being (which it is not). I went to college, obtained a degree, and became a scientist because I am person first; then I am a woman; then I am an American. It wasn’t until much later, after divorce, a period on my own and remarriage, that I became a mother as well. By that time, I had a good career, was succeeding on my own merits and was useful, independent and generally content. It makes little sense to give that up once you have it. I refused to entirely redefine who I was just because I had children.


Why do I work? Because, that’s what productive members of a society do, and it makes me content.


Between the time I was divorced in my twenties and remarried a few years later, I learned that I could manage a life on my own. Most of this was learned living at college but now it really counted. There was no other home to return to. I was my own person for real. I would encourage all young women to achieve this milestone for herself, without the crutch of a boyfriend, husband or Daddy.


I was exceptionally fortunate to find a spouse who shares my views on money, nature, religion and children (if not music and movies, but you can’t have EVERYTHING). I was able to plan having children and he is there to help.


There are many who still strongly support the traditional women’s roles in America. When I was a few months away from having my first daughter, my hair stylist told me I should quit my job as a geologist in order to be a stay-at-home Mom. She assured me it was the best thing she ever did. I declined comment. To her, returning to a job in any number of beauty establishments would have been fairly easy. For me, leaving my position would mean I would not get anything like that again. I would lose the progress that I had made. I would be unhappy about it.


My decision to work was not at all about money or material things. It was all about me as a person. A person needs meaningful work, whatever work that might be.