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Women smart to seek careers

Published March 05. 2011 09:00AM

Did you see the Internet video of a 5-year-old girl giving her very emphatic thoughts on marriage and careers?

The video has been highlighted on Yahoo this week and has thousands of hits from people captivated with the little girl.

They don't tell the circumstances of where or how the video was made but there is no doubt about the convictions of the youngster as she talks.

"No, I will not marry you unless I have a job first," she says. She goes on to say she doesn't care if she marries that unnamed person or if she goes on to someone else.

"If he says, I will not come back to you, fine! I'll find a different man. This is my life. I have to stop caring. I will not do anything for you until I have my job first," she says.

It's funny to hear such dramatic statements coming from a precocious 5 year old.

"I don't care if I marry you or another man. I care that I do something special," she concludes.

That video got thousands of hits from people who were enthralled with such serious statements coming from a youngster.

I wonder where in the world someone that young formed such strong opinions on marriage versus career. But I say, "Bravo!" I hope she doesn't change.

This is an age when girls can grow up to be anything they want to be. They can see examples all around them of what women can achieve.

Little girls have the example of women flying into space and sitting on the Supreme Court. All around them, they have examples of limitless possibilities.

It wasn't always like that. It wasn't that long ago that women were expected to work only until they found a husband. And if they did have a career, it had to be nursing or teaching because other fields weren't open to them.

My own wonderful father believed the best thing a girl could do was to find a husband who would support her and take care of her.

When I wanted to go to college, my parents said it was "unnecessary." A college education is only wasted on women, they insisted as they said they wouldn't help me get a degree.

My dad thought a MRS degree was the only one a woman needed.

He was astounded when I plugged away, working my way through college. It took ten years, but I did it, balancing a job, marriage, and caring for kids and a house along with my studies.

My sister MaryAnn and I didn't just love our father. We idolized him. How we both went on to wonderful careers in the face of his objection is a wonder.

"Women shouldn't work once they are married," he kept insisting. Over the years, he never softened that stance. When my sister and I earned promotions and did well in our chosen fields, on one hand my father was pleased. But he was more perplexed and troubled by our success.

"You're taking jobs away from men," he lamented.

After my husband had two strokes and three cases of cancer, it was my career that kept us going.

"What would I do if I didn't have a good job?" I asked my father. He conceded there were "limited times" when women should work.

I pointed out to him that women need to be able to take care of themselves. They have no idea what will befall them. Divorce, sickness, death of a spouse these are situations that can and do leave women destitute.

My sister never married. When Dad died, it was her great job with Verizon that sustained her. The job gave her more than a salary. It also gave her a good social life and great friends from work.

I like to think that today's women are smart enough to work to develop good job skills, whether they are married or not.

Unfortunately, that's not always the case. This weekend I met a woman who can't get back on her feet after her husband left her for another woman.

She was smart. Really smart. When she graduated from high school she was offered a college scholarship. She turned it down to get married. Her husband was pleased. He told her he didn't want a wife who was smarter than he was.

They lived a grand lifestyle and she was never sorry about not getting a degree - until he left her, that is. Now, she's struggling to find a job, any job. But she has no experience and no jobs skills.

That scenario is repeated many times over.

On the other hand, there are also many women who were smart enough to acquire skills they can rely on throughout life.

My friend Beth is a beautician who has developed a good following. Her husband lost his construction job two years and hasn't been able to find another one. It is Beth's job that is keeping the family going.

"I've always loved doing hair and I've always been thankful for my job," she said, "but I never thought it would be my family's salvation."

That's the point young girls don't know. When they think only of the present, they may think they only need some sort of simple job until they meet someone and get married. They don't know that adequate job skills could someday be a life preserver.

Somewhere out there is a little five-year-old, wise beyond her years, who already knows that.

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