I am a recent college graduate looking for a job armed with my degree in History, minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, and another certification in Women and Politics. It has been hard. I have been attempting to navigate the non-profit and advocacy world with mixed success. But this post is not going to be about my hunt for a job. Rather, this post is going to be about a phone call I recently had with my mother that prompted some musings and speculation on my part.
The other day I called my mother to update her on the soul-crushing experience that is generally referred to as job hunting. Somewhere in the midst of me telling her about where I had applied and who had already rejected me, she interrupted with the question, “Why have you been talking about going to grad school for history when women’s and gender issues are so clearly what you are passionate about?”
I quickly explained to her that I was also passionate about history and that while I have every intention of being involved in women’s rights until the day I die, I don’t know how long I can sustain the emotional energy to work directly in the field and make it a career. I definitely want to work with an advocacy organization for as long as I can, and those are the jobs I am currently looking for, but I am quite a nerd and want to end up doing research and teaching eventually.
This prompted my mother to ask why I wasn’t thinking getting an advanced degree in women’s studies. Once again, I mentioned that I do really love history and I will always include a gender or feminist lens in my research, but I cannot stand the amount gender/queer/feminist theory that I think would be required to get a Master’s or PhD. To prove my point, I offered to send her something written by the great Judith Butler, unfortunately my mother declined.
It was after this conversation that I realized something, I promise I am getting to my point. I realized that if I, as someone who is gifted academically through both hard work and the circumstances that I was born into, struggled this much with the theory involved than there is a real problem with accessibility.