Halas discusses women's ambivalence about their sexuality. In this book, we will address women's ambivalence about their careers.

Many women enter the work force with ambivalence. Before we even begin a career, we anticipate that it may be interrupted by child-rearing responsibilities. This dilemma is seldom shared by men. Parents, in-laws, friends, and others feel free to pressure young women about such issues as having children and making career decisions after children are born. No wonder, then, that women are ambivalent, feeling pulled in all directions. Typically, men see work as something they do for their family, while we see it as something we do against our family's best interests. If you compete with a man for a "male job," you may feel this conflict about work, but it's likely he will not.

Some women reach adulthood before it occurs to us that we might spend the majority of our lives in the work force. We might have received training for a particular career or job, but we didn't take it very seriously. Now we find that we need to work, for a combination of reasons. Our work has become an integral part of who we are and how we see ourselves. It has given us a direction and purpose that we didn't expect. While we know we will continue to work, we may drag along traces of this ambivalence from the past.

Mixed emotions may result from an inaccurate definition of loyalty. We believe we are not committed to a company or a job if we do not have what we define as loyalty. Melia and Lyttle describe differences in male and female perceptions of loyalty. Women tend to operate with what the authors call "marriage loyalty." We will be loyal for ever and ever, as long as our conditions are met. Men tend to use "football loyalty." They will be loyal unconditionally, even unto death, but only today. Tomorrow the loyalty must be renegotiated.

If you adopt this male version of corporate loyalty, much of your ambivalence will disappear. In a job interview, no matter what is said, the interviewer expects you to be unconditionally loyal today. Forget about whether you are committed to work here – or anywhere – until retirement. Recognize that the men who interview for the job are committed to being loyal for today, and therefore are no more committed than you. Plan your career. Work your plan. If your plan is interrupted or changed, so what? You will still get farther, earn more, and have more options than if you stay in a female job track.

Your feelings about failure and success may cause you to be ambivalent. According to Moore, many women believe they don't have the right to succeed or to fail. By placing too much emphasis on our failures and too little on our successes, we believe we are entitled to neither and fear both. We adopt a crippling view of ourselves as imposters, fakes, and frauds. What a perfect prescription for remaining underemployed!

Look around you. All the career women around you were raised female, just as you were. All the men around you share your fears and uncertainties, to some extent. These people have decided to behave differently from the way they feel like behaving. They don't take the time to resolve all their internal conflicts. They act in spite of those conflicts, and they continue to evaluate what is appropriate behavior, no matter how they feel. So can you.


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