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Separate or Equal? Female Career Challenges from a College Perspective

When you’re a senior in college, thoughts about what you’re going to do after graduation are accelerated to overdrive.  Between the plethora of family members and relative strangers asking “So what’s next?” and your internal anxiety about inevitably having to decide what to do with your life post-grad, there is little room to think calmly and rationally without being worked up into a future-induced frenzy.

If you happen to be female in addition to all this, the equation takes on another level of complication.  The coursework is completed, the degree is obtained, and the job/grad school hunt begins.  Armed with your bachelor’s or master’s, let’s say you actually get the well-paying, loan-alleviating, life-changing job that you dreamed of for so many years.  Congratulations!  But somewhere along the line, you may decide you’re ready to start a family.  You have the partner to start it with (hopefully, but if not more power to you), you have the financial security, you have the desire.  But do you have the option?

The accounting profession is just one that is notorious for its hostility to females, especially during tax season.  To gain the perspective of a young woman strongly considering entering this field, I turned to one of Lesley University’s finest.  Diba Feroz is a junior double majoring in business and communications with a minor in psychology.  Hailing from Afghanistan, a country where women working outside the home is highly looked down upon, she couldn’t be further from the dominant ideals of her homeland.

Lesley student Diba Feroz in New York City circa Winter Break 2014.

Lesley student Diba Feroz in New York City circa Winter Break 2014.

When asked what her ideal job would be after graduation, Diba responded with “I would like work for investment companies such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase or Morgan Stanley.” adding that her ultimate goal is “to be a stock trader. I am very interested in working for the New York Stock Exchange.”  In regards to gender-based challenges in her prospective field, Diba seems largely unfazed.  However, she is aware that certain challenges await her.

“First of all, I think women have the same capabilities as men in this field. However, there some challenges that face women in this area.  Accounting jobs oftentimes required more time commitment. Women who are married and have children it might be difficult for them to balance their professional and personal lives.”

In order to handle the demanding schedule of a financial professional, Diba knows that she is going to make certain sacrifices.  It might be difficult for me to have a social life. “I might be working approximately 40-70 hours a week. I think have to learn to manage my professional and personal lives carefully. I also need to surround myself with people who will support and understand my professional life.”

In June 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote a piece for The Atlantic entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” which stressed the “unresolvable tensions between family and career” for career women.  But what does it truly mean to have it all?  For Diba and many other young women entering post-grad life, it means getting a high-paying job that validates years of education, resume-building, and dreaming.  Still, our generation is more traditional than we realize.  Whatever “having it all” may be, it is significant to understand that women across the board face professional challenges that differ from those of their male counterparts.  As for Diba, she has the New York Stock Exchange to worry about.  And that’s enough.

Categorised in: Current Issues, Editorials and Opinions

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