The Working Woman Myth

17 Sep

My cousin recently told me that her neighbor’s house was stinking of dirty laundry, adding that, they are a working couple. Meaning :The wife works.  

 I belong to the second generation of working women, in my country, and strata in society. In spite of having a generation before me, the “working woman” myth still continues well into the 21st century. Most families would rather not prefer a working daughter-in-law. Most people (still) assume that an educated woman does more evil than good and has no respect for the elderly. Most of the working women are automatically assumed to be bad homemakers and bad cooks. Not to mention the biggest myth of all, that working women make  bad mothers, as we are dependant on others to raise our children.

Being a working woman myself, it’s only natural that I heavily dislike the prejudice. I personally have felt that having a job, has helped me, and probably many others, become better homemakers, daughter-in-laws, and even better people.

Below are why I believe working women are  (supposed to be) make better homemakers

Team Work:  From the day go, most jobs, include working closely with people, from varying cultural backgrounds, languages and  religion. We break all the seeming barriers, to make things work every single day. We are trained to work seamlessly with a team. Not to mention how we  cover for a colleague, when he/she is off sick or has an emergency. We understand the various merits of  cooperation, and we “get” team work.

How can that positively translate into a household?  Most often than not, managing a home, is a teamwork, which involves experienced stalwarts(read mothers, grandmothers, mother in-laws), and working with them seamlessly is all it takes.

Ability to adapt to change: One of the biggest challenges,  faced by women in India, post marriage, is to live among people alien to them.  To live in cooperation with people who though may belong to our own cultural/religious background, still manage their homes/kitchens completely differently from how our mothers did.

 “We don’t do it this way in my home” is an attitude that has led to various dysfunctional households.  This is where ,the working women , should have a clear advantage. We have promotions, we keep changing managers, offices, and sometimes even companies. We face varying and completely new scenarios, on a day-to-day basis. So if you are good at your job, change is probably very acceptable to you. So unlearning a recipe, or accepting that adding a new ingredient will not making it non authentic, will immensely help us in a new home. The fact that they don’t do things as they did in your home, might seem, pretty passé , for someone who faces change frequently. The last thing we are, are thick-set.

Ability to LEARN new skills (without letting ego get in the way):  Surviving at work, means continuous learning . Unlearning what you already know, and learning something new, is something we do everyday. We sometimes need to learn from people who may not have as much experience as we do, cause they might have a skill we don’t. Ego, though, might creep in, is always kept in check, because we need to learn to survive. As a newcomer, we are also, always given the time to learn the environment. We are not expected to be the greatest and best on day one.

How does this translate to a household?  The ability to give ourselves a chance to learn, without getting defensive. The ability to forgive ourselves, if we aren’t perfect on the first day. Most importantly, the courage to put ourselves out there, to learn, in an environment, which is completely alien to us and from people, who are not familiar to us.

Most importantly, we as humans, are creative beings, and having a place to unleash our creativity, and to be productive will make us happier, and better people. So then why the myth?

Lose the attitude

I once heard my colleague say  “I am a working woman, why should I work in office and at home”

OUCH! Not to mention that she wasn’t winning any ,Best Employee Awards, at work either. In fact, she played the woman card in office and the working woman card in her house. This attitude is what spells DOOM for the working woman cliché.  

Women’s education is still a cause of wide-spread concern. Even in the 21st century, girl children are pulled out of school earlier, that is, if they are ever sent to schools in the first place. Women’s education even in affluent families are sometimes restricted to “a woman needs enough education to help her kids through school. But not so much as to earn herself a living” All the various programs for self-sufficiency of a woman, the various reservation schemes in place for the fairer gender, none of it will make sense, unless the current working woman population, LOSE the attitude. We could blame the men for being chauvinistic, who oppress their women. We could blame the world for being partial to the male gender. But as we complain, we need to look at ourselves.

Though we always forget, as educated working women, we are the very limited blessed section of the society. We had parents who were willing to educate us and give us equal opportunities. We had employers who were willing to hire women, in spite of the seeming disadvantages. So as the blessed class of the society what are we doing for the rest of the not-so-blessed section of our society? Do we need to go deep down into social work, and rehabilitate widows/girls to help society? Not always. Society is by and large the people we meet on a day-to-day basis. Our biggest contribution to society is to be a good example.

Respect the housewives :I have seen a general disrespect towards the homemakers, from the working women. Forget about men, who don’t respect their housewives enough. Are we, who are the same gender, respect the housewives, just because their jobs don’t have monetary advantages? If they keep their house sparking clean, the answer is always, that’s cause they don’t work. They take care of their toddlers, while taking care of a full-fledged family, the reason is, that’s cause they don’t work. They are amazing cooks, that’s cause they don’t work.

We fail to notice that  it’s because they are exemplary in a job, that needs more respect than ours. Homemaking is probably the toughest job on earth, the one with no weekends, no vacations, and is 24X7, with no backup. So people who have chosen to be homemakers should be revered and respected, by the other lot of women, who chose to work outside their homes. Or I would say, who are blessed to have the opportunity to work outside their homes for a living.

LEARN :  Not everyone is great at culinary skills. Not everyone is a brilliant homemaker. But trying your best to help around, being empathetic and respectful if you do have other women in the home is an attitude all of us can build.  Having an education or a job, doesn’t make it OK for you to be pathetic in any of the departments you are expected to be good at. (Let’s face the gender inequality, for a minute here. Women are expected to know more of these than men are) .However, as mentioned above, having a job makes you equipped to be better at homemaking, than anyone else. So helping around, or learning a new skill, should actually be easier for you. Are we doing enough, or are we using having a job as an excuse  to being a lesser woman?

Most of us are unaware of the impact we have in the people we meet. We , the privileged lot of working women, will determine, how many fathers will decide to educate their girl children.  Our attitude in general would determine , how many men will let their wives work. Not all of us can save girl children, and not all of us can work in homes for women, to better their living conditions. But all of us, can influence our immediate surroundings. . The various facets of learning a job brings to a human being woman or man, is way much more than the money we earn, or the independence we enjoy. A job should not be a time draining exercise in futility which keeps us away from family, it’s a profession, that makes us a well-rounded individual. As a woman who has an opportunity to fulfill our dreams, we should become examples to everyone around us to pursue their dreams, without the fear of being bad at any of our primary duties as women




 A woman who has a lesser education or is unemployed, needn’t automatically be good at everything homely either. More about that later. !


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