Managing Lives: Corporate Women and Social Change

By Sue Freeman Joan Mendelson | Go to book overview
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Work

Why do people go to work? What keeps them motivated at their jobs? Beyond financial necessity, there are many human needs that are met through participation in the work force.1 People commonly express a preference for their daily toil even in the absence of financial need. That is, people would choose to continue working even if income were otherwise forthcoming. That the transition from employment to leisure frequently is a difficult one testifies to the many social and emotional functions that work serves in addition to its economic one. We become more aware of those needs in retrospect when we witness the emptiness that can accompany retirement.2

Humanists and social scientists have written about work and its meaning from pragmatic and spiritual vantage points, but for more than half of this century the work that was described and analyzed was understood to be "men's work." "Women's work" was unpaid, pertaining to the household and to caretaking.3 Women who worked outside of the home were either single or obliged to do so for some unfortunate reason, usually financial necessity.4 Men were expected to find primary fulfillment from their work away from home and only secondarily from their families.5 Women's fulfillment was expected to come solely from their lives within home and family, and their activities there were not even called work.6

This rigid dichotomy between men's and women's lives and their

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