To Work, or Not to Work; That, Ladies, is the Question!

At Work, At Home, and Online

The Challenges and Growing Influence of Women


PQ: Crushing their challenges, women are taking over the world, in so many ways


As an idealistic, excited, and passionate  JMU grad in 2003, I was ready to take on the world. I wanted it all; career, kids, marriage, and success in all things. Passionate about Neuroscience, I “decided” I would get a PhD, enter academia, get married, and live the dream. If only goals were a guarantee in life. After two years of applications, GRE’s and interviews, I received only one offer, from my dead-last choice.. I went through a 3-year period of maddening shame, guilt, and soul-searching; if I was so passionate and driven, why couldn’t I make it happen? I worked in a series of uninspiring jobs in which I was horrendously underemployed. Then, I landed on the coolest and most satisfying job I’ve ever had; as an instructor for the analytic software platform, Palantir. I work with intensely interesting people and challenges daily, and lead the training program for our deployment. While at work, I am almost high with excitement and satisfaction. I am a self-labeled clinical attention-whore, and teaching satisfies my pathological needs. I thrive on helping my students solve hard problems. A life of grant-dependent academia would’ve been miserable for me, and I thank the gods for my ‘failure.’ In addition to being a teacher, I am a clinically-obsessed mommy.


My son and I have a rich home life full of friends, adventures, and fun. We make play-doh cookies, blow bubbles, jam on our huge cache of musical instruments, sing songs, and make macaroni and cheese. We take nature walks and feed farm animals. We watch ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ and ‘Blues Clues’, and we read read read. Occasionally, I find myself inspired by my son with ideas for my career as an instructor, and my students inspire my career as a mother. I implemented a trivia game with prizes for my adult students, and I’ve learned how to ask my son questions in the right way to encourage learning. It’s all absolutely fabulous; except when its not. There is simply not. enough. time.


I work three days a week, and am perpetually behind. I want to be perfect, and am yet woefully under-involved. Important correspondence falls through the cracks weekly, and I have to work in a furious caffeine-fueled fervor to stay afloat. At home, I regularly forget to pay bills, miss doctors appointments, and purchase enough milk to get through the week. Sadly, I have failed miserably in my attempt to keep organized, be a fabulous mom, and have a fabulous career. I am perpetually falling short of my goals. My solution? I am learning to let go. Frustrating as it is, my career is just OK, and that is OK with me. I get just enough satisfaction and pride out of my work to be comfortable with my choice to be part-time. It is a never-ending internal struggle, but one in which I am learning more about myself, my son, and my world than I might be if I took another path.  I see my life as a stream, going in many directions, and seeing the world from different angles. I suppose I could be a raging river, rapidly advancing and reaching my destinations with speed and strength, but I prefer the scenic route.


The life of the modern American woman is one of difficult gut-wrenching choice. We are constantly second-guessing our decisions, and often unfairly judged by our peers for the decisions we make, SAHMs, full-time moms, and part time moms alike. Ours is a life of overwhelming responsibility and treading water. Whatever path we decide to take, owning it is the key. Being part time is the best choice for my circumstances, but this is in no way a judgement on anyone else. There are simply too many variables in life for everyone to make the same decision, and we don’t. That’s why women are taking over the world, in so many ways!


According to the Council of Graduate Schools, more women attend graduate schools than men. Despite continued pay discrimination and glass ceilings at many law firms, the percentage of doctors and lawyers that also happen to be women has also increased by sixfold since the 1970’s.  Women are also rising the ranks of government; 20% of our US Senators are now women as well, bringing splashes of color to a sea of gray and black suits.


However, social media is where we really shine. Behind the not-so-glass screens of our computers, and on no ones schedule but our own, women are influencing and changing communities, movements, brands and commerce at a rate never before seen in history. Through Social Media, our voices are heard. We’re home from work, the kids are asleep, we have all the time in the world; and everyone is listening.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me by entering your email in the upper left-hand corner of the blog, where it says “follow by email”.  

Got kids? Check out my new childrens book on Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia!

Elizabeth Christy

Elizabeth Christy is an author, writer, and IT professional living in Sterling VA. She lives with her husband James and 4 year old son, Jimmy. In addition to basic survival, Elizabeth enjoys reading, sewing, and nature. She also runs the nonprofit organization "Books and Bottles", which promotes reading to young children. (Facebook.com/booksandbottlesorg

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