A young woman graduates at the top of her class at a prestigious engineering school and starts work conducting research at a large engineering firm. After working for three years, she decides to take four years off as her two sons are born. After the youngest is old enough to start pre-school, she applies for a new job, but there is a four-year gap in her resume. Applying for the same job is a bright male engineering student who has just graduated from the same university and who is fresh and ready for the workforce. Which would you hire?
“I bet a lot of guys have given up their dreams of becoming pro-baseball stars. Why can’t she just give up her dream of becoming a CPA?” — Guy complaining about his girlfriend’s thoughts about raising a family
While the baseball star premise is a bit far-fetched, it’s probably true that a lot of men decide that watching their children grow up is more important than being a CEO and working 60-hour weeks. Nevertheless, I fail to appreciate the rest of his argument. As I am a female engineering student in a serious relationship and about to graduate, this topic is one I need to grapple with. It is a complex topic and one that both young men and young women who wish to have families one day will need to seriously consider. Whatever we might say about the gentleman I quoted above, at the least, he is misinformed. I intend to discuss a variety of subtopics related to his comments over the next few posts and hopefully shed some light on things we’ve been trying to avoid.
You were at the top of your class in high school and you are working your way through your college courses. As your junior year draws to a close, you are cruising, happy to have passed your finals and then wham, you hit what could be your last summer break. Staring you in the face is a huge question: What are you going to do for the rest of your life? Most of us have repeatedly heard that we are the best and that the world is at our fingertips, but we are surprised when it’s our turn to jump in.
After high school, undergraduate study buys us some time to figure out what we should do with ourselves for the next 50 years. Unfortunately, there is no post-undergraduate buffer zone. As our undergraduate careers wind down, we realize how little we know about the “real world.” Suddenly we have to decide between graduate school, a full time job, or service opportunities like the Peace Corps. Is that long-term relationship with the girlfriend or boyfriend something we want to continue? And what’s all this about investing and retirement savings?
In its article “Misery: the secret to happiness,” the BBC reports, “the key to a happy relationship could be accepting that some miserable times are unavoidable.” According to therapists at several American universities, “cultural fairytales and modern love stories [perpetuate] the myth that enjoying a perfect relationship is possible.”
After I read this article, this concept seems obvious. There will be ups and downs in any relationship and if we fail to accept that, we will be greatly disappointed. Unfortunately, for people in the middle of a relationship, this fact is not intuitive.
After driving from Princeton to Cincinnati and back on the great American interstate highway system over Memorial Day weekend, I saw the true essence of the average American. I’m convinced that if the 24 or so candidates for the 2008 presidential election were really interested in having a “conversation” with the American people, they would campaign at the hundreds of highway rest-stops that line the interstates of this country.
On May 18, USA Today published an article titled, “Fed-up drivers begin to look ‘outside the box.’” The article outlined some of the many ways Americans are coping with rapidly rising gasoline prices. While oil companies unfairly rake in record profits at the expense of the American people, these difficult price increases may be beneficial for the country in the long term. With peaking oil fields, record growth in China and India, and unrest in the Middle East, oil prices will not go down. Americans need to face that fact eventually; now is as good a time as any.
Coming back to NJ for the summer, I saw something I have not seen in months: the suburban lawn. The homogenous green swaths of suburban lawn, also known as grass, are a triumph of American consumer culture.