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.


  1. Naomi

    June 4, 2013

    A group of women and I are actually set to launch an organization with the sole purpose of focusing on and supporting these exact tenets and providing networking and mentoring within this next week.

    So this call is timely.

    If anyone wants more information about the organization or to be kept in the know about our launch, you can email aspiringmormonwomen at gmail dot com

  2. Naismith

    June 4, 2013

    The title made me wince. It implies that somewhere there are non-working women. I guess maybe there are, but a heck of a lot of women who are not employed still work very hard at home. During the years that I was at home full-time, I canned tomatoes, sewed a lot of clothes and all of our curtains, etc.

    Although nowadays I am an employed professional, I still spend a lot of time on homemaking tasks that make a major contribution to our family bottom line, particularly managing investments, cooking from scratch, mending, gardening, etc.

    I would hope that all of our work as women, paid or not, would be respected by church members at least.

  3. Jessie

    June 4, 2013

    Naismith–I thought hard about the title of this post, for several weeks at least. I certainly didn’t want to imply that some women don’t work–I hate it when people seem to make that assumption. But, I had to come up with something simpler than “Stories of women who have paid employment” or “women who have jobs” or “women who have careers” etc. I spent many years not employed outside my home and I feel like we often talk a lot about the kind of work that women do in the home. However, when I needed to get a job to support my family, I had a hard time finding people willing to really talk about what kinds of work they did, how that worked for them and their family, and some of those other more practical aspects of life. I know plenty of women who are LDS and are employed, but most of them rarely talk about their experiences, so I just wanted to have a conversation about that. Choosing to have a conversation about a particular topic at a particular time does not mean that other topics are less valued.

  4. jennifer rueben

    June 5, 2013

    I am a retired educator with a variety of job experiences. Looking at my work history from this end I have noted something I would love to share with women starting into their employment years. Please note: I was very blessed that my husband was employed at a good salary and I do know that this is not true of many of our working sisters and their choices are limited by their need to earn a good salary.
    Back on subject. If I could have a do-over on those working years I would have not tied myself to an employer but spent my time in non-salaried positions as an advocate and aid. I would have been more valuable to my church, my community, my family and myself using my talents and training in these volunteer positions that often make a big difference in children’s lives.

  5. Lynn

    June 5, 2013

    I agree with the wisdom and insight of Jennifer Rueben. To either add balance or conflict to the topic at hand, I’m submitting the following quote by CS Lewis, being fully aware of the topic of discussion: ” Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes?….The homemaker’s job is one for which all others exist.” CS Lewis

  6. LLH

    June 5, 2013

    I think we need to remember that asking women who work outside of the home in paid employment in no way is putting down or making less of women who are full time homemakers. It is very frustrating as a woman in this church, who works full time and has 5 kids, to deal with the hostility and almost fear that exists toward women who work outside the home. I don’t think that this post, asking for the experiences of women who have full or part time employment, should raise concerns and make people feel like they have to put in all sorts of comments to restore balance and put in more of a plug for homemaking. I have total confidence in saying that there is no underlying motive to put down homemaking or women who are not employed. Those of us who work are not sinning. We are doing what we feel needs to be done (what ever our circumstances are) to provide for our families. Its ok to let us have a voice too.

  7. Stephanie

    June 5, 2013

    I’m so excited to see what you hear from your readers! Although I don’t work outside the home, I’m the oddball among my LDS friends. Almost every woman I know does something to earn money, and I see my five daughters probably needing to do the same someday. I encourage them to work hard in school and consider career paths that will allow them some flexibility with their future families, but I don’t feel it’s something I’m demonstrating. (Yes, this is the right thing for me to do right now, but it might not be for them.)

    The women I know don’t simply “work” or “stay at home,” there’s a continuum, with endless individual variations. Good for you for addressing this. Should be fascinating!

  8. Kathirynne

    June 5, 2013

    I am a “working” mother of 4, and I have NEVER experienced any hostility or fear from the sisters in the Church. What I have felt, though, is a lot of self-inflicted guilt and conflict that I cannot be the mother that I want to be due to the fact that I have to work to put food on the table.

    Having said that, I think when we examine our motives or reasons for working, we see that whatever we have to do to keep body and soul together for ourselves and/or our families is the “right” thing for us to be doing – and that “right” thing is different for every woman.

  9. Inari

    June 5, 2013

    Eh. The whole “work or stay at home” conversation is posed in a way that automatically leaves out a lot of women from the conversation: the single ones. I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are a lot of single women in the church. In a household of one, the option of staying at home is a nonoption (unless some kind of a government benefit is involved I guess?) so the whole home-or-work dichotomy presented there feels completely irrelevant and one feels a little disconnected. It would be amazing to see thoughts and insights from single working women.

    Having said that, it also sort of leaves me a bit stumped as to what kind of an insight could I give as a single working woman. There’s not much to it in my life, really… Go to work, come home, get paid every once and a while… But hopefully someone will have a spark to share something, or I’ll find a spark from somewhere.

  10. Jessie

    June 5, 2013

    We would love to hear from single women; the original call for posts was not meant to exclude you. If you want to share, we would like to hear about your career and education choices, no matter what your marital status or family size.

  11. jennifer rueben

    June 5, 2013

    background- I am a teacher with training and experience in special education and more particularly autism. It is a field were many of the success stories and advances have been made by non- working people. It is also a field were volunteers willing to be advocates and aid are badly needed. There is a tradition that when possible, “matrons” young and old involved themselves in community, school and church . Although they were not salaried employees they have valuable jobs. There are many reasons for needing or wanting paid employment but please be sure that the reason is worthy of your valuable time and the money earned is enough to justify your absence from non-paid jobs. It wasn’t for me. ( yes, I know working women do volunteer work, that is not the level of non-paid jobs I am addressing.)

  12. E

    June 5, 2013

    So working outside the home is great as long as it’s unpaid. But if a woman is paid for working outside the home then the work is probably being done at too high a price. Did I get that right?

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