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Homemaker or Career Woman?

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2013 in Gender Blogs

When I was little I spent a lot of time with my Aunt Mary and her family because my mom traveled with her job to support us. I became a part of their family and watched how my aunt and uncle ran the household. They seemed like the perfect family. I didn’t get a chance to live with my dad and mom long before they divorced; so staying with my aunt and uncle was a treat. I loved that my aunt spent her day at home looking after me and my younger cousin Kendall, cleaning, and making sure that dinner was on the table when my uncle got home. She was completely happy and content with her role in their relationship. I remember when I was staying at their house I would help her clean, cook, do laundry, and look after my cousin. She would always tell me what a good girl I was and that my mom would be proud. I believe that since I spent so much time with my aunt when I was little and hearing her say those words influenced me into knowing how I can be a “good  girl” and that was by helping to do the activities of a homemaker.

a good little helper

 There’s nothing wrong with being a homemaker. Now that I am newly engaged and about to get married I feel a pull to want to make sure that I will be a good homemaker for my future family. Interestingly, an article on The Washington Post, says that if the job of a homemaker “were salaried, it would draw, on average, close to six figures: $96,261”. I find that hilarious because many believe that it doesn’t take much to be a homemaker but there is a lot of work that goes into “keeping house”. Even if my aunt didn’t mean to influence my gender identity it happens all the time when children interact with others.

According to our textbook, Gendered Lives by Julia Wood she says this called Symbolic Interactionism which “claims that through communication with others we learn who we are and how our culture views our identity” (Wood, 55). When children interact with others, they are constantly told who they are whether it is a description of how they look or act such as pretty, calm, or rough. These descriptions are then internalized by children that can influence how they act or look externally. Through the views of others they are able to assign what behaviors go with their gender.

I have learned from this theory that even though I have an active role in defining what gender I identify with. That the views and communication of others also play a big role in influencing how we think of ourselves and what we would consider good behaviors for our gender. I hope that this blog shows that there are different paths even if they are part of our cultural norm. An Oxford Journal article I read through the Longwood database stated that “homemakers are slightly happier than wives who work full time…many women do, in fact, report personal gratification and meaning in the activities of caring for home and family”. I am not saying that if someone were to choose a career that they won’t happy because I plan to have a career myself. I’m just trying to show that there many different paths to happiness. There are so many more options for women today but I do not believe that any option is better than the other and that it is our own choice to decide where our path will take us.

happy family

Bring on the comments

  1. Katherine Moore says:

    Hey Lindsay!

    Congratulations on your engagement! I found your blog very interesting and relatable to my own life. Growing up my mom did not work. While my dad work, my mom stayed home and looked after the house along with my little brother and I. I felt fortunate to always have her home whenever I got home from school (opposed to having to go to daycare). Through my observations, I have seen how difficult the duty of “homemaker” is. Whether it was dropping me off at soccer or picking my brother up from baseball,it seemed like she was constantly on the move. In our book Gendered Lives, Julia T. Wood introduces cognitive development theory. As you stated above, you learned a lot from your aunt, however you also had an active role in learning about what it takes to become a great homemaker. According to cognitive development theory, in addition to learning from others by watching and doing, children have active roles in creating their gender identities. I wish you the best of luck with everything in the future and I’m sure you’re going to be an excellent homemaker for your future family!

  2. William Petrucelli says:


    I think you bring up a really good point. Some women do believe that being a homemaker is an ideal job and feel no need to “break out” of this role that society has made for them. I think we forget this sometimes when we hear so much about some women resenting the stereotype that they should be the ones responsible for the duties in the household. Of course, the problem comes when a woman does feel like this role is limiting or when a man believes that he would work best as homemaker. Our society has encouraged women being homemakers so much that it is considered breaking out of a gender norm when a man decides to take on this role or a woman prioritizes work over home life.

    Our text discusses social learning theory and how this shapes our understanding of gender. Basically, we are rewarded for doing what is appropriate for our gender and punished for doing what is inappropriate. I think your family had a definite impact on the ways you viewed gender as a child because of their encouragement when you helped around the house. When I was a child I can remember being rewarded for doing well in sports and getting good grades in school which influenced my own views on gender and what it meant to be a good man. It really is surprising how early some of these roles are enforced in us as we are growing up. Thanks for the post!

  3. Leighann Curtis says:

    Hi Lindsay, great post!
    I think it is wonderful that you were able to see two separate sides on what a woman’s life could be like, and realize there are so many different options. Growing up with the influence of your working mother, as well as your homemaker aunt allowed you to have two very different role models to help form your identity.
    I think Social Learning Theory goes along with this as well. It suggests that the child takes a more passive approach and instead of picking and choosing various role models, the child imitates what they see and are either rewarded or punished for it. From this process of rewards and punishment the child learns what is appropriate for their gender.
    As you noted in your blog your aunt telling you that you were a good girl when doing domestic chores, it influenced your ideas of what was expected of a girl. That praise of telling you, you are good, can be seen as a reward for your actions. Personally as a child if I did not help my mother with duties like this she would refer to me as “lazy”, many times she would not allow me to do other things like watch television if the chores were not done, this could be considered a punishment of sorts. Though we may not notice it at the time little things like this can shape the beliefs and ideas we have today.

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