I have noticed for many years now that the narrative we tell about women and work in the Church does not reflect the reality I see around me. Women are encouraged to get an education and to develop their talents and skills, but we are also told that women who have children should make mothering their families their primary responsibility and forgo employment outside the home. The most common dichotomy I see presented to women is a choice between some sort of high-powered, high-prestige full-time career, and staying out of the workforce for years to be a full-time mother. Yet, when I look around at my friends and family who are members of the Church, I see hundreds of different lives with diverse, individual choices. I know women who have a high level of education who have followed the promptings of the Spirit to stay out of the workforce. I know women who have a high level of education who have followed the promptings of the Spirit to have established careers with high levels of responsibility and prestige. I know other women who have never worked and who started families at a young age. I know women who don’t have a high level of education and work low-prestige jobs. I know women who work part-time, who work full-time, who run businesses with their husbands, who do occasional childcare for extra income, or who do freelance work from home. I know women who have stayed out of the workforce for twenty or more years before returning, either out of necessity or desire. I know women who want to work outside the home but don’t, and women who don’t want to work outside the home but do.
For every LDS woman that I know, choices surrounding education and employment are not simple or easy. So much depends on other life factors, such as the employment and education of a spouse, the lack of a spouse, the presence or absence of children, education level, family background, and geographic location. Last year I got my first full-time, benefited job at the age of 34. According to many people, this is a bit late in life to get started on a career. Perhaps it is, but after years of doing my best to follow the promptings of the Spirit, I know that it was the right choice for me. I am grateful for the 8 years I had where I spent the majority of time at home with my children and wish I had more time to do that, but I’m also grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in helping me find a good job that supports my family.
I have looked to women around me for examples when making choices regarding my education and employment choices. In this spirit, we at Segullah would like to hear from LDS women about their career choices. Where are you currently working? Why did you choose this career path? What education and other decisions did you make that led you to this point? If you had to counsel youth about education and career choices, what would you say? How do you balance your job with the rest of your life? You can answer any or all of these questions in your guest post; please follow post submission guidelines listed at the top of this page.