March 29, 2009

Ethnography: Work and Gender

Research Design: After reading Lisa Belkin's article "The opt-out revolution", I really started contemplating the future of women in the work place. Not just the usual questions of pay rate and maternity leave, but my main question was concerning the amount of woman in top positions in ratio to the men. Why weren't more women in top CEO positions? This area interests me, but since I'm doing a ethnography study which uses fieldwork to complete the thesis, I decided I probably couldn't get in touch with any CEOs. The "Mommy Track" which is the idea that women do not have time to complete all the academic goals while also being a mother, was really troubling for me. I find that to be completely true. Men have all the time and support to achieve their goals, a child may slow them down a bit, but ultimately will not stop them from achieving their goals. My final question is : What do women have to sacrifice to be academically successful?

Methodology: I wanted to look at females who are more academic goal oriented. I also wanted to see how their own personal relationships stacked up, if the man was more goal oriented, or if the woman would stop her studies for marriage. I interviewed my friend, Maria. She is graduating this spring. She faces some problems because of her relationship. For my fieldwork, I went to her capstone class, and had dinner with her and her boyfriend.

Interview questions and answers:

So whats your major?
- Anthropology

Do you have more female or male peers, how does that affect you?
-More female peers, I don't think it really affects me, its either really cliquish or really don't know each other.

What are your academic goals?
- To get a PhD, then I'm not sure. (Jokingly says, be a housewife)

What are your personal goals?
- I would like to have a good stable job, be married, maybe have kids, probably have kids.

Do you think that you'll be able to achieve both?
-I think it will be really hard, a stable job will be the least hard of them all. Balancing them will be the difficult part of them all.

What do you think about the "Mommy track?" -
- I think its really crappy, its a really interesting situation, it seems like because women in our society are seen as the main caretakers, then they have to take care of the children. If they want to have ten-year. If I decide to do ten-year, then I'll have to wait to have children, I don't want to wait to long.

Observations: There is a real problem in our society when it comes to women fully achieving their goals while being mothers. Maria's problem is not uncommon when it comes to young ladies in school who have big career goals. The problem seems to magnify its self when you have a man at your side, because now your choices have to be met with someone else's. When Maria jokingly said "Be a housewife", she was referring to the simplicity of not having to struggle to accomplish her career goals while trying to raise a family.

Write up: Overall, I feel that my original question still needs addition research in order to answered completely. For the short version, a woman has to sacrifice her time, emotions, and energy to be academically successful while having a family. A woman can only do so much, so either her career suffers, or her family life suffers. I feel that the best way to get more information on the subject would be to analyze the working mothers life's.

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