Sunday, September 25, 2005

Educating women

I’m sure I’m not the only educated woman at home with my kids who has a blog, but I don’t read more than a handful of blogs, so I haven’t read other responses from people like me to the NY Times Article about Yale women planning not to have careers.

So here are some of my thoughts (and my husband’s) – I’m sure someone else has said it better.

First of all, nearly all college educations are not like vocational training. Instead, and education teaches you how to learn. Very few people have a job that exactly utilizes their degree – I didn’t, even when I was working, and my husband doesn’t either, and of course, I don’t now, as a stay-at-home mom. But I use my ability to learn constantly. I read about education and parenting, and provide plenty of information about how the world works. I love reading and learning and I (mostly unconsciously) model that for my kids.

In the past, women have made up a large, unpaid, community workforce, doing volunteer work. I’m not a big volunteer, but I am working on a library committee that is currently working to get a new library or a library addition built. I can’t say I’m exactly using my education, but I’d really like to reject that argument as completely irrelevant, since most people don’t exactly use their educations in their jobs. The committee members do need to be politically savvy, able to deal with finance issues, how to work with town government, architects, accountants, and other professionals. Like any job dealing with professionals, it is useful to speak the same language, and tossing around a credential of sorts or two won't hurt the working relationship any.

There are no guarantees that women will find husbands who also buy into their idea of having a single-income family, or that circumstances won’t require that they work (divorce, for instance, or death of their husband). A good education increases your ability to get a good job, and therefore increases the possibility of working part-time to make the money the family needs. In my own case, I’ve been able to work part-time from home for consulting rates since I’ve had my kids, which is the best of both worlds, as far as I’m concerned.

I think the women interviewed in the article are so young that they don’t have a vision of what they might do after their kids are grown. Perhaps they won’t need or want to work then, either, but if they do, they will have credentials to use.

I would hate to see higher education be lost as a choice for women. I loved getting my degrees (well, at least to some extent). I met fabulous people, I learned tons, I came out of my shell in a way that I’m not sure would have happened in any other venue. Of course, I also met my husband while in college, but that is another story. It’s not like ROTC, where they pay and you owe, is it? Or am I somehow wrong?

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