Thursday, September 18, 2008

Working Girls

In the 80s, there was a film starring Melanie Griffith called Working Girl, which in my opinion tried to be the female equivalent to Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen's Wall Street. Working Girl was about a secretary trying to climb the corporate ladder. In those days, it was all about the high-powered career - making deals, raking in money, living lavishly.

I admire women who have built their corporate careers. While I did join the so-called rat race for close to a decade, all I had was a series of jobs.

The term "career" implies staying power, starting at the bottom and working up to the top, or as close as one can get to it, of a particular industry. People have careers in finance, IT or whatever. My employment history is a hodgepodge of work experience across different industries. I started off in corporate banking (to get business experience, as very few big corporations would hire an Interdisciplinary Studies graduate), moved to financial services, then to retail, while moonlighting in events management and teaching, and then ended my "corporate" life to date with a stint in IT services (mobile communications sector).

Hardly a career-making history. No doubt the Interdisciplinary Studies part of me wanted to try different things and see where I could fit in, and while there was one job I truly loved, the practicalities of daily living meant I needed to go where the money was better.

And yet, it was when I quit the jobs that I seem to have found my career path.

Motherhood and the Working Woman
The whole nature versus nurture argument has many sides to it, but since females are the carriers of children, it seems we are predestined to have a career in motherhood, which itself is a lifetime thing. Whether one has a corporate job or career on the side, the womb has a stronger pull. A sick child means automatically means taking the day off work or staying up all night, or flying home from a business trip. Likewise with parent-teacher conferences, school programs, sports days and the like. Fathers can choose whether or not to take part in these activities, but mothers do not have that luxury.

There is very sad news lately about babies in China developing kidney stones from contaminated milk powder. Most of the mothers of these children are farmers who have no choice but to feed their babies powdered milk because fresh milk may be more expensive or less readily available, and manual labour makes breastfeeding impossible.

Certainly many women need to supplement the family income. In my husband's office, majority of his co-workers are mothers. They earn good wages and can take pride in being recognized as formidable financial figures, but there is no doubt in my mind that when they think of their responsibilities, their children and household running fall above making deals and number crunching.

Motherhood is a career unto itself, as every mother knows, although it doesn't bring the financial benefits of a 9 to 5 job. The compensation for work well done is seeing a child mature into a responsible adult, a person who cares for others and has the right values. This is infinitely more rewarding than a paycheck, as children raised properly become tomorrow's world leaders. Mothers of the world, give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back.

1 comment:

Maita said...

ditto! i totally bow to all the full-time mothers or working mothers, basta mothers! i would give up corporate success to the happiness of being a mum in a heartbeat :) you go, iyor!