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Work and Women

  • ... it used to be almost the first question (just after 'Can you type?') in the standard female job interview: 'Are you now, or have you ever, contemplated marriage, motherhood, or the violent overthrow of the U.S. government?'

  • Women on the way up generally fail to win popularity contests. The only compensation is that once you're there you will become very well liked.

  • Nothing is more stylish than power.

  • Margaret was a corporate wife back in the days when that was the best job a woman could get in the business world.

  • ... they let her know that she was unwelcome, and a burden they did not know what to do with. Having to deal with a man who is over-qualified for a job is bad enough. To have to cope with an over-qualified woman in any situation is a complete misfortune.

  • Bigamy is nothing to a woman. She is wedded to her art and a man simultaneously.

  • ... being asked to decide between your passion for work and your passion for children was like being asked by your doctor whether you preferred him to remove your brain or your heart.

  • A woman's authority as new manager may be questioned, but her ability to do the work is not. Women have made their reputation within the company on their task performance, diligence, and concrete accomplishments. They face a turnaround in their priorities when they move from worker to manager. Their task, as manager, is to stop doing so much of the work. Paradoxically, the strengths that elevated a woman to manager are transformed into shortcomings within that position. Women who have always done more than their share of the work must learn to relinquish the substance of tasks to their subordinates.

  • Every great man has a woman behind him ... And every great woman has some man or other in front of her, tripping her up.

  • There is perhaps only one human being in a thousand who is passionately interested in his job for the job's sake. The difference is that if that one person in a thousand is a man, we say, simply, that he is passionately keen on his job; if she is a woman, we say she is a freak.

  • It is ridiculous to take on a man's job just in order to be able to say that 'a woman has done it — yah!' The only decent reason for tackling a job is that it is your job and you want to do it.

  • Women's work is always toward wholeness.

  • Homemakers work longer and harder than any other class of worker in the United States for less pay, and are the most likely to be replaced by a younger worker.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors' convention ()
  • If women act on developing a feminine orientation to their leadership style, they increase their opportunity for influencing the world.

  • If there is to be any romance in marriage woman must be given every chance to earn a decent living at other occupations. Otherwise no man can be sure that he is loved for himself alone, and that his wife did not come to the Registry Office because she had no luck at the Labour Exchange.

  • I have never heard of a male artist concerned about the effect of his growth and expansion on his family. We accept the fact that his work justifies all sacrifices. But woman does not feel this is enough of a justification.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • "The New Woman," in Ramparts Magazine ()
  • Broadly speaking, it would appear that the American woman, like her British kin beyond the sea, has taken a dip into every occupation. The advance of woman has been complete, and, with the exception of the United States army and navy, there are no blanks. She labors in the field and dairy, and thrives as a farmer, planter and overseer. She goes forth in a boat and braves the wind and sea in fishing, and drags the bed of the ocean for oysters. She may be found in lumber camps, doing duty as wood-chopper and lumberman, and even as a raftsman woman has tried her hand, and is not afraid to own up to the census man. With pick and dynamite she quarries stone and delves into the earth in search of the common minerals and the precious metals. In the professional world woman has made her appearance in every occupation save that of marshaling armies and conducting war. Her progress in professional life has been as marked as in trade and industry.

  • There is hardly a field of labor into which woman has not penetrated, and every day brings some new story of discovery and achievement.

  • As you progress up the career ladder, you invest ever greater portions of the day communicating. The Harvard Business Review schedule for a typical woman leader suggests that her day is roughly divided into: 20 percent reading, 20 percent writing (dictating and word processing), 40 percent formal presentations (she's also listening and speaking informally during these presentations), 30 percent in informal meetings (at which she speaks and listens while sitting). These figures add up to more than 100 percent because the communications overlap.

  • Let us in through the guarded gate, / Let us in for the world's sake.

  • The higher a woman moves up in the work world, the more likely she is to be entirely surrounded by men. She feels conspicuous, and she is. Whatever she does is apt to be judged in terms of her womanness. If she succeeds it's because she's different from most women; if she fails it's because she's just like a woman.

  • ... networking ... can change your whole way of thinking about what it takes to succeed in business. As a technique, it will introduce you to stimulating, knowledgeable allies you didn't know you had. As a process, it knows no limits — and neither will you if you use it to its fullest potential.

  • Reminds me of what one of mine wrote in a third-grade piece on how her mother spent her time. She reported 'one half time on home, one half time on outside things, one half time writing.'

  • The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.

  • ... under a monopolistic economic system the opportunity to earn a living by one's labour comes to be regarded as a privilege instead of a natural right. Women are simply held to be less entitled to this privilege than men.

  • ... I believe that the matter is automatically self-regulating; that those women who prefer the home and have an ability for it will eventually return to it; that others, like myself, will compromise; and that still others, temperamentally unfitted for it, will remain in the world to add to its productivity ...

  • Until 'mothers' earn their livings, 'women' will not.

  • ... women have fallen hook, line, and sinker for a terribly narrow, restrictive male definition of what it means to succeed. For more than fifteen years we have blindly accepted income, title, and power as our gods, exchanged them for home, hearth, and children. We have fought to mold ourselves into reasonable facsimiles of the men whose status in the professional world was a source of envy. And we did it by insisting that women, given the opportunity and the chance to compete, were basically no different from the men who excluded them by law, custom, and tradition.

  • ... the world is not always kind to a clever woman even when she is visibly known to be earning her own living. There are always spiteful tongues wagging in the secret corners and byways, ready to assert that her work is not her own and and that some man is in the background, helping to keep her!

  • At work, you think of the children you've left at home. At home, you think of the work you've left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself: your heart is rent.

  • ... to be successful, a woman has to be much better at her job than a man.

  • I find it very heartening that of the women I have questioned lately about their feelings towards their mother, all the ones whose faces light up and who say, 'She's wonderful' have been daughters of women who work outside the home.

  • Women who work at home rearing children and attending to various household tasks are expected to provide something that is absolutely essential yet costs nothing, like the air we breathe.

  • But oh, what a woman I should be if an able young man would consecrate his life to me as secretaries and technicians do to their men employers.

    • Mabel Ulrich,
    • "A Doctor's Diary, 1904-1932," in Scribner's Magazine ()
  • It is common to hear dedicated working women say they have to be twice as intelligent, three times as industrious, four times as enthusiastic, and work for half the money paid their male counterparts. Even then they may not be taken seriously. Many women feel that no matter how excellent their qualifications, the rise into management is blocked.

  • My piano playing again falls completely by the wayside, as is always the case when Robert composes. Not a single little hour can be found for me the entire day!

    • Clara Schumann,
    • 1841, in Gerd Nauhaus, ed., The Marriage Diaries of Robert and Clara Schumann ()
  • The more diligently my Robert pursues art, the less I accomplish therein; heaven knows! there always are hindrances and as small as our household is, there's always this and that to do, which robs me of time.

    • Clara Schumann,
    • 1841, in Gerd Nauhaus, ed., The Marriage Diaries of Robert and Clara Schumann ()
  • You think, dear Johannes, that because I occasionally lay something aside I am giving too many concerts. But think of my responsibilities — seven children still dependent on me, five who have yet to be educated, and next winter I shall have them all at home again.

    • Clara Schumann,
    • 1861, in Berthold Litzmann, ed., Letters of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, vol. 1 ()
  • I got in great political trouble when I was asked, 'How can you be both a congresswoman and a mother?' and I replied, 'I have a brain and a uterus, and they both work.'

  • Discrimination against women in job assignments, training and promotion, affects employers and our total economy as much as it does women. To fail to maintain the pace is to come out second-rate as a nation.

  • If you look at what is currently being highlighted as the ultimate managerial style — the secret for management in the late eighties and early nineties — most management seminars will continually put up the Japanese as an example. Japanese managerial style is all about the very skills and qualities that have been traditionally described as feminine. The Japanese are personified motivators. They are into participatory style ... not into aggressive-dictatorial style, which is typically addressed as masculine. They are listeners. Empathizers. These are all the qualities that have historically been described as feminine. And they also, ironically enough, are what are being described now as Japanese. Heaven forbid they should be described as feminine!

  • ... in a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.

    • Louise Bogan,
    • "The Heart and the Lyre" (1947), A Poet's Alphabet ()
  • Anyone who works at home, particularly a woman, is expected to also run the household and be a parent. The family tends to think, 'Oh, she's not really working, so it doesn't matter if she does it today or doesn't do it today — if I need her to go shopping for shoes, she will do it. So what if she doesn't work today.' That, unfortunately, has remained true through all these years. And, even now, as a successful writer, I think the family still tends to feel that way — 'So what if she doesn't work today.'

  • ... there is a vast arsenal of resistance to the idea of women as bosses. ... The usual feelings of competitiveness aroused when a new person wins out are multiplied a thousandfold when that new person happens to be a woman.

    • Janice LaRouche,
    • in Janice LaRouche and Regina Ryan, Janice LaRouche's Strategies for Women at Work ()
  • Having the right image — the way people see you — is crucial to getting what you want from work: respect, raises, promotions, good working relationships, and an easier time of it all around. This holds for everyone in the workplace, but the 'right' image is particularly essential for women because they have to overcome the handicap of being the 'wrong' sex.

    • Janice LaRouche,
    • in Janice LaRouche and Regina Ryan, Janice LaRouche's Strategies for Women at Work ()
  • Other problems confront women in power. One is fine but two's a crowd seems to be an unspoken rule when the one wears a skirt. And those in authority have found ways to reward women for excluding others of their kind.

  • The moment we accept the theory that women must enter wage-earning occupations only when compelled to do so by poverty, that moment we degrade labor and lower the status of all women who are engaged in it.

  • In the past, work was a mystery to women. But when we get into it we find that there's no mystery and no magic to it. Women have to spend less time thinking, 'Am I doing it the right way?' and start thinking, 'Am I doing it?'

  • I'd like to see workplaces where women don't have to check parts of themselves at the door.

  • ... there is only one role or job which no woman is or could be qualified to perform: Sperm donor.

  • ... women, when describing their roles in their organizations, usually referred to themselves as being in the middle of things. Not at the top, but in the center; not reaching down, but reaching out.

  • Women also lose sight of their goals by taking on extra responsibilities. We are virtual responsibility magnets. We don't make these decisions consciously or deliberately, but out of the fear that if we don't act on a need, it will never get resolved. ... But we fail to realize that once we become responsible for something, we may be responsible to it forever.

    • Pat Heim,
    • with Susan K. Golant, Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business ()
  • Being a working mother means that you are always disappointing somebody.

  • Most women work one shift at the office or factory and a 'second shift' at home.

  • If I had ever learned to type, I never would have made brigadier general.

  • The world cannot afford the loss of the talents of half its people if we are to solve the many problems which beset us.

  • ... if networks of women are formed, they should be job related and task related rather than female-concerns related. Personal networks for sociability in the context of a work organization would tend to promote the image of women contained in the temperamental model — that companies must compensate for women's deficiencies and bring them together for support because they could not make it on their own. But job-related task forces serve the social-psychological functions while reinforcing a more positive image of women.

  • ... a woman's success is more likely to be explained by external factors like luck or ease of task, or by high effort, an internal but unstable factor, whereas a man's success is more likely to be attributed to high ability. The reverse is true for explanations of failure; men are said to fail because of hard luck, a hard task, or low effort, whereas women are said to fail because of low ability.

    • Bernice Lott,
    • "The Devalutaion of Women's Competence," in Janis S. Bohan, ed., Seldom Seen, Rarely Heard: Women's Place in Psychology ()
  • Seeking approval and acceptance from a male hierarchy in the workplace is an all-too-familiar and illusive goal to almost every woman of any age, and the search for personal and professional fulfillment while meeting the needs of children and husbands remains a juggling act. Should I be working, should I be home? Who needs me most or dare I be alone? The mental radar is always scanning the skies to see who needs what.

  • I don't want to send all the married women to work, but what I want is an economic situation where every woman who prefers to be a full-time homemaker and mother may do so, and every woman who wants to be in an outside situation has sufficient, satisfactory childcare available to her so that she can do it without feeling guilty.

    • Beryl Beaurepaire,
    • in Susan Mitchell, The Matriarchs: Twelve Australian Women Talk About Their Lives ()
  • Women who bear children before they establish serious habits of work may never establish them at all.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Creativity Versus Maternity," What Do Women Want? ()
  • Unpaid work never commands respect; it is the paid worker who has brought to the public mind conviction of woman's worth.

  • You don't ask a man, 'Do you want to be in control [of your job]?' You assume he wants control. Why would a woman be any different?

  • [Children] use up the same part of my head as poetry does. To deal with children is a matter of terrific imaginative identification. And the children have to come first. It's no use putting off their evening meal for two months.

    • Libby Houston,
    • in Cheris Kramarae and Paula A. Treichler, A Feminist Dictionary ()
  • If you were to survey celebrated women, with every step toward real success there came a baby.

  • How to go to work when your husband is against it, your children aren't old enough and there's nothing you can do anyhow.

  • Women have been in business such a long time now, they have for so many years been accepted on the same terms with men, that it seems almost archaic to caution them about expecting special courtesies and favors because of their sex.

  • ... the woman who holds an important position in a business organization does so because she is making some special contribution to that organization. ... She fills a niche that is important to the survival chances of that company.

    • Dorée Smedley,
    • in Dorée Smedley and Lura Robinson, Careers in Business for Women ()
  • There appears to be a disturbing trend in this nation to try to force single moms to choose between their children and their careers. If they take their careers seriously, they are labeled as bad mothers. If they spend time with their children, they are labeled as people who can't be serious about careers outside the home. This is a sexist double standard. No such guilt trip is imposed on men, who are generally not forced to choose between their children and their jobs.

  • [On the attitude of the few women in her university department in the 1960s:] We said we'd make coffee if everyone would take their turn. And by damn, we never had coffee all year.

  • Women were relegated to an inferior caste ... most dramatically with the coming of industrialization. 'Women's work' was segregated from significant human activity.

  • Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you're wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn't love you anymore.

    • Lady Gaga,
    • in Amber L. Davisson, Lady Gaga and the Remaking of Celebrity Culture ()
  • Women occupy, in great masses, the 'household tasks' of industry. They are nurses but not doctors, secretaries but not executives, researchers but not writers, workers but not managers, bookkeepers but not promoters.

    • Vivian Gornick,
    • "The Next Great Moment in History Is Theirs," Essays in Feminism ()
  • [On women in the workforce:] Most of them went 'straight up the down escalator.'

  • If all men labored hard every hour of the twenty-four, they could not do all the work of the world.

  • What's the worst part of being a woman in business? We asked these three men what they think.

  • How much should you smile during your job interview? The answer is not too much and definitely not too little. Try practicing a smile that's somewhere in between, even if it makes you look like you're having a stroke.

  • Telling your coworkers about future family plans is risky. If they think you'll be going on maternity leave soon, they could immediately start to count you out for future projects. Try to keep your pregnancy a secret until your child is at least eighteen years old.

  • Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious offense and will not be tolerated, except in cases where the harasser was clearly joking and you need to relax.