Saturday, February 4, 2012

research material: seriously?

Two goodies found in the TWU stacks.
This week I had the opportunity to catch a ride out to the valley where I happily haunted TWU, my old alma mater, as well as Fort Langley, the town still in possession of most of my heart. I wandered down into the library stacks, looking for something interesting to read. I'm not sure if I actually thought the reading material would have improved since I graduated, most likely it was nostalgia that made me so ridiculously hopeful. 

Sadly, no such improvement had occurred and my wanders took me through shelf after shelf, each one at of least 60% full of books older than myself. Finally, I came across these two gems, "Job Ideas for Today's Woman" (published 1973) and "Changing Careers after Thirty-Five" (published c. 1970). I only got through the first one, but it was more than enough to entertain me for an hour. 

Those who know me, are familiar with my love of the ridiculous. You've seen how incredibly delighted I become when I stumble upon something horrifyingly outdated, naively offensive or just plain ignorant. As a gift to you who share this appreciation, let's look through "Job Ideas for Today's Woman" together, shall we.

I am so very sorry to report that this chapter includes the phrase "so tie your apron on..."

Like people? Well you should spend your life planning social engagements for others!

What sets woman apart in sales?  They are the customer! As a woman your insight and knowledge of the industry is limitless because you are a shopper too! Thank you for informing me of this, how delightful.
I would also like to draw your attention to "Femininity is not your only asset." What? I have something else to offer the world, but what could it be? Intelligence, personality, skills...pish, what are they next to femininity?

Time to turn your innate nurturing ability towards the other creatures of God's kingdom. "Oh Bambi darling, did you skin your knee? Come here sweetheart, mummy has a band-aid."

Cool! Woman can work in "vital", high-paying fields which garner respect and are not gender specific.

Think again. "Pearl also finds the time to 'mother' patients..." Yep, that's right, nursing is the top-tier of the jobs woman can do in the health-related field.
Oh and of course, they are also well suited to assisting dentists.

As for these next few chapters...well, they just hurt my heart.

(This is the 70's after all, and what suits the "working woman" better than caring for other people's children?)

I continue on, believing there must be some merit somewhere, I mean why would this book be here if it is so entirely useless. There must be something good ahead.

Could it be? Is there hope for this book?

 Sadly no. To be fair, they did include conservation work as an option, but most of the chapter was devoted to such things as floral arranging.

Want to work in PR? Lead a company? Revolutionize the economic world?

Sorry, you can't. But if you have: "a pleasant manner, good grooming, [are] punctual[], enthusias[tic],..and have simple (preferably tailored) clothes and accessories" you would be perfect for work as an assistant, receptionist or even baby-sitter!

 Baby-sitter of what? Oh, just your boss. Answer the phone for him, take him his sippy cup and perhaps even sing him a lullaby when his clients are making him cranky.

And then, on the horizon I spot it! Hope! Real hope that this book actually deserves to be on a book shelf in a place of higher learning!

This one's legit. Apparently woman can write professionally.

Enjoy travel and "go-go", plan other people's vacations! A bit lame, but at least its not a stereotype.
This one's a bit odd, but legit. Have a career as a fix-it woman.
And because, once again, this is the progressive 70's, you don't have to be the Harried Homemaker, you can help her by doing the"homemaking" for her!

Cool, I can be myself, utilize my gifts! What are your ideas, throw 'em at me!
Jaw-drops. Art-appreciation? Not art classes. But teaching people, in theory, with slides, how to appreciate art. Is there anything more useless than that?

So by now it may seem that I am a raving feminist and a despiser of those pursuits deemed most "typical" for woman. This could not be further from the truth.

I have friends who work with children and animals, friends who decorate and plan social engagements, and several friends in the very stressful and competitive nursing field. I myself trained to teach, before choosing theatre and working in spas (is there anything girlier?!). I hope one day to have the privilege of having a family to look after and even clean-up after. But this is my choice, what is in my heart. I feel I have a choice.

What I abhor about this book is two-fold. First, I hate that this book (and many others) were written to encourage women to do certain jobs, and perhaps these are  jobs that their life-experiences have already well-prepared them for. But where is the thought that women could actually be well-suited for every job? That talents and capability are not doled out in accordance with gender. Come on women, be doctors, engineers, consultants, be principals, politicians, lawyers, or financiers! 

If there's one thing that a history degree has prepared me for (and yes, I think it may be the only thing it's prepared me for), it is the ability to understand that philosophies, thoughts and new information take time to disseminate and become integrated into the greater social consciousness. 
And this brings me to what is really wrong with this book. It is 2012 and the social consciousness has and is changing in terms of its view of women and their role in society. So why, WHY is this book on the shelf of Maclean's A+ ranked institution? I don't care what people thought about the role of women 40 years ago, I care what they are being encouraged to think now. What resources are available to girls and women as they grow and learn, figuring out who they are, what gifts they've been given and where they fit in the world. 

I have a friend who is an auto-mechanic, another who is a physio-therapist, another who is an x-ray technician, another who is in PR. 

The point is simply this. Each person is uniquely created, gifted and has a life-path that will contain various jobs and careers. I just want every young person to be encouraged to think outside the boxes we've already constructed to see what potential God has placed in them. 

Oh yeah, and I want to burn any book that tells them otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. This is pretty great. Of course, men in general do tend to be better at certain things than women in general, and vice versa... but certainly a generalization shouldn't limit the individual. That book sounds pretty ridiculous. The real question, as you have pointed out, is what such a book is doing at TWU.
    Here's a book I know you'll love, from 1964: Crafts for Retarded Through their hands they shall learn Yep.