5 Reasons the term ‘Career Woman’ Doesn’t Need to Exist
Terms like career woman and working-mom are still widely used today despite the fact that women make up nearly half the national workforce at 47%. These terms make women who are pursuing a career seem like outliers who are somehow less feminine. Career-woman implies rigidness, sternness, and bossiness while working-mom implies negligence and unfeelingness. This is completely unfair in my view.
Many women suppress their feminine qualities to get ahead in the workplace, but that idea sort of makes me cringe. I have aspirations and professional goals, but I don’t want to change or hide parts of myself to achieve them. Just recently, I came up with an idea to be a positive media consultant in order to improve the messages sent out by the media. Why should I conceal my femininity to pursue that dream job? The parts of me that make me a woman don’t make me any less capable of being a journalist or business owner or anything else I want to do.
1) With a Good Work-Life Balance, You Can Achieve Any Potentially Conflicting Goals
One of the hardest patriarchal structures to break apart is the idea that women are better suited to child rearing and housekeeping than earning money. What I think is taking even longer, is eradicating the belief that one person can’t do both. Regardless of your gender, finding a work-life balance is not only possible but healthy. A woman should feel no less restricted in her career than a man by the desire to have a family or other personal pursuits. While the personal and professional will likely collide, open communication and balanced sacrifices on both ends, will keep everything running smoothly. This idea applies to personal goals outside of family life as well. Young women should be encouraged to explore ambitious careers, take risks, strive for leadership roles, and not feel the need to quit if they become mothers or want a life beyond the office.
2) Feminine Qualities Can Improve the Productivity and Culture of the Workplace
Femininity is the collection of qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of women. Traits that often get associated with women are empathy, sensitivity, compassion, interdependence, and nurturance. These are stereotypes that don’t necessarily fit into every woman’s definition of femininity, but regardless, I don’t think they are qualities to hide while you're on the clock.
In fact, in my experience, understanding and effectively communicating with others is a pretty critical part of getting a job done, and often one that separates employees from the pack. If feminine empathy and listening skills contribute to effective communication, utilize that.
Additionally, studies show that collaborative and friendly work environments improve productivity. If feminine compassion can help you improve the office culture, you’ll be doing your company a favor.
3) You Have the Opportunity to Define ‘Feminine’ in Whatever Way Feels Right for You
What feminine and masculine mean is really up to you. Just because you are a minority at your job doesn’t mean you have to change the way you speak or dress to be more standardly masculine. Consider instead what is and isn’t professional. Subtle adjustments like these to the way we think about our careers as women can have a huge impact on the way we carry ourselves.
With that perspective, there is freedom to incorporate your brand of femininity to work. This will help demonstrate more examples to women who do not present in masculine ways that they can still be professionals.
My personal definition of feminine is living mindfully, actively, kindly, and with a mission to make a difference. Does that have anything to do with gender? I don’t know. But I don’t think my interpretation puts me at any disadvantage professionally.
4) Female Mentorship is one of the most Empowering Feminine Acts to Engage In
That stereotype of feminine nurturing, when applicable, can come in handy when it comes to expanding the force of women in your field. Mentoring younger women to follow your career path can be wildly impactful. The presence of role models and accessible resources as a young woman is starting her career helps to build her confidence, know-how, and network as she goes forward.
Mentoring later in your career is not only demonstrative of your commitment to the field, but can actually remind you of all of the passion that got you started in the first place.
5) Drawing Meaning and Purpose from Everything you Do is a Great Definition of ‘Feminine’
For many, introducing themselves has 2 main parts: name and profession. Your career is often a very significant part of your identity. Why not make sure it’s something that drives and excites you?
For me, landing a job in a career that I am passionate about has been a goal since I was very young. I can’t imagine my frustration if I began an exciting job only to be sarcastically called a career-woman and met with societal pressure to give it up in favor of a more “feminine” approach to life. To me, it doesn’t get more feminine than having a career that is rewarding to you, since you likely devote a substantial portion of time to it. Passion for all that you do and incorporating your personal motivation into your hard work are really positive feminine qualities that can enhance your career.
Ultimately, just being yourself and bringing all of your qualities, feminine, masculine, or otherwise, to all of your work, will serve you well. It will also serve the next generation who will witness the successes of a variety of people in careers they are inspired to pursue. I certainly won’t be holding back my feminine side in the workplace, nor will I consider myself a career woman– just a woman who loves her career.