the hard way out
Agree with this comment:
02 June 2014 8:36pm
The problem is that it’s so much harder to go to uni and build a career after having children. Taking 3 years out and paying for it is impossible for most families. My own mum went to uni for the first time in her late 30’s but struggled to compete with the fresh faced young nqt’s in teaching. Many employers are ageist, especially to women so you could fall from one trap to another.
Theoretically I can see her point, it is easier to have a baby young and it comes with benefits. Going to university with life and work experience under your belt would also be a good idea for some people but in the real world I’m not sure it holds water.
Well, it’s absurd. In the original piece in the Telegraph she said “Don’t go to university because it’s an ‘experience’. No, it’s where you’re supposed to learn something! Do it when you’re 50!” . Good luck to the woman coming out of university in her mid-50s looking to start her career.
I agree but there must be a middle ground between having babies as a child and getting a degree as a granny surely? I got my degree then had my first child at 27 then my second then I got a career. Maybe if I’d not had the first child I might have gone further, but who knows, probably not. On the other hand maybe I wouldn’t have had the chance to have a child if I’d waited till I was more established. The problem is though that we are told we should aspire to having a career – we can’t just want a job that pays the bills.
The problem is though that we are told we should aspire to having a career – we can’t just want a job that pays the bills.
You bring up a point that is close to my heart. The paraneters of what constitutes “success” for a woman are defined in a very narrow way. She is supposed to have a “kick-ass career,” a “successful marriage and family” or, ideally, both. Then you are supposed to add to this all kinds of hobbies and skills (golfing, boating, playing in an orchestra, gourmet cooking, etc.) and of course be happy and with “high self-esteem” who “lives life to its fullest” (terms wholly unknown to Shakespeare, Dante, Aristotle, or Joyce). Lord help the woman who has none of these things.
The older I get the more I long for a world where the worth of all people, whether male or female, is evaluated not by any of the above criteria but simply by answering the question, wholly without irony, “is he or she kind?” If anyone knows a desert island where such an ethic prevails in the populace please let me know – my gosh does my heart and soul ever long for such a place. 😦
Good luck to the woman coming out of university in her mid-50s looking to start her career.
Unless she has “connections” and/or a skillset that is in “high demand,” this is absolutely true.
The thing that irritates me about these articles (regardless of which “side” of the debate the writer is on) is that they always fail to take into account an individual’s circumstances. The fact is, risks attach to whichever road a woman chooses (career or family). Moreover, the particular road she can choose is always limited by circumstances beyond her control.
We live in a culture where those who “have it all” such as Kristy Allsop are self-appointed experts on what we all should do. We give them that power because as a rule we lionize those who have attained material success and worldly achievement (including marriage and motherhood – of successful and attractive husband’s and children, of course. God forbid if your only child is severely disabled, unless you are rich and/or famous). I long for an alternative way of measuring the worth of human beings (such as “Is he or she kind?” If I mention this out loud to someone, the response is usually a smirk).
Interestingly, the current issue of Oprah magazine has two interesting pieces, one about Genevie Kocourek, who went to medical school in her 40s, and the other about a home economics teacher in New Jersey, Agnes Zhelesnik, who is 100 years old. I would like to read more about women like this.
Are you familiar with Barbara Ehrenreich’s writing on feminism and socialism?
No, but I’ve read “Nickled and Dimed” and “Smile or Die” and I think she is phenomenal.
She talks about things that no one else really does. She gets right to the core of the rot in Western culture.
I have read a lot of her books (including this lesser known one which I enjoyed http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/apr/26/music) but not her writing on feminism and socialism, so thanks for sending. Interestingly that link resonates with the episodes of “Louis” (http://www.salon.com/2014/06/03/this_would_be_rape_if_you_werent_so_stupid_louies_most_disturbing_scene_yet/) I watched last night.
She talks about things that no one else really does. She gets right to the core of the rot in Western culture.
Another point of view is she is the rot in Western culture.
Well, that’s unfair really. There’s a lot more wrong with Western culture now than just socialist feminism.
Barbara Ehrenreich – What is Socialist Feminism?
That would be a tautology.
“Thus, the forms that sexual inequality take – however various they may be from culture to culture – rest, in the last analysis, on what is clearly a physical advantage males hold over females. That is to say, they result ultimately on violence, or the threat of violence.’……Barbara Ehrenreich
For the record, I have never laid a finger on a woman, not the teeniest poke or prod. I have had a woman get angry with me because I refused to physically control and dominate her. There are many shades of gray in between black and white.
Autumn, I will see if that Oprah magazine (with the Genevie Kocourek article) is available on Dutch newsstands. I have an offer of a place on a medicine degree in Ireland starting either Sept 2014 or 2015. I haven’t decided whether I’ll go for it. Part of me is worried about the student loans … I am financially independent now but after college, I wouldn’t be and I’d also be older (42).
The issue is June 2014 with Oprah in a red dress on the cover. I’m sure you could find Dr Kocourek’s email address and get in touch with her to ask some questions about her experience.
With respect to finances – you need to take into account your future earning power not just the debt! I want to switch professions but it is not feasible financially without a lotto win (I am almost 50). If I was your age I would though.
Good luck (you go, girl!) 🙂
Yes, I’m definitely taking into account future earning potential, as well as the at times horrific working conditions in the crumbling Irish healthcare system.
Junior doctors start on e30,000 (?!?) slowly rising to e57,000. The maximum pay for a specialist or senior registrar at the top of the scale is e75,000 and the average timeline to reach this is 15 years post-qualification with no guarantees due to a shortage of consultant posts with increasingly less favourable terms.
A significant proportion of Irish doctors emigrate as soon as they can (one year post-degree qualification) because of a lack of opportunities, low training standards and awful quality of life (mandatory and at time unpaid overtime, 60 – 120 hour weeks, frequent rotations throughout the country).
All things to consider before signing on the dotted line.
I’m trying to gauge whether I want it more than anything else at the moment. Still have time to decide though, so it helps that it’s only internal pressure.
Interesting, Sinead. My take on it:
It’s definitely a risk-benefit analysis. Given the numbers you have cited, unless you have the “I will die if I don’t get to be a doctor and will never have peace within myself” syndrome (independent of the money and prestige that attaches to the profession) it doesn’t make much sense, especially if you already have a stable profession.
Confession – I speak as one who forsook med school in my twenties and have lived to regret it 😦 I don’t think however that most MD’s are driven by this “desire to practice medicine” per se.
You need to ask yourself “how badly do I want this and WHY exactly?” Do let us know what you decide.
Me too Autumn. I took an offer of a Vet Med place over one in Med 20 years ago and it still sits on my shoulder.
I’m just not sure I’d adjust to the crazy lifestyle. Then again what else would I be doing? Time is there to be used.
I’m also recently divorced and about to move from The Netherlands to Ireland and my innards are creaming for a break .. so I think it’s Sept 2015 entry for me or not at all. Starting med school in 12 weeks just makes me feel tired 🙂
Tough decision, Sinead. If you no longer want to practice as a vet have you thought about a doctorate in the hard sciences? Along with the intellectual challenges. there are phenomenal opportunities in Ireland now in the pharmecuitical sector, etc. You could probably earn a lot of money (100K +) with a normal 40 hour work week.
I am too old for med or vet school (would have loved to be a vet) but if I had the money I would quit my job and do a doctorate in some aspect of medical/health sciences. Pipe dream 😦
At the moment I am counting time to “retirement” so I can spend all day logged onto Coursera living on a fixed income, lol.
I don’t work as a vet Autumn. Long story for another time …
I’ve never been motivated by money but do value the security I’ve built for myself (even more so now I’m single again with only myself to rely on). I’ll visit the med school when I’m back in Ireland and see what my gut says.
Regardless, I know I am looking for a change and need an easy first year back in Ireland. I’ve had way too much stress the last two years, so will put my med place in my back pocket and see how I feel later in the year.
Always nice to have options.
Thanks for sharing and being interested.
I have the same feelings about not being motivated by money per se but highly valuing my security.
Sinead, I wish you well with medicine if that’s the way you’re going to go. Perhaps you have done all the math but let me warn you again how expensive Ireland is. A colleague is leaving at the end of the month. He returned to Ireland in 2011 with his wife and family hoping to make a go of it here. He had left Ireland straight after college in the 80s and worked in London and Australia. He bought properties in both places. When he returned to Ireland he sold his house in Australia. The idea was that he would get settled here and use the money from the sale to buy a house here.
3 years on he gave up. Despite having a large deposit and collateral he cannot get a mortgage for a house in a residential village outside Dublin. His and his wife’s savings have been dwindling since they came home and they couldn’t find their feet financially. He has a good job and the wife chose to stay home and look after their 3 children instead of paying through the nose for childcare. Even so they have been forced out of Ireland again because of the cost of living here. He also said there was an air of negativity, defeat and depression here which was dragging him down. He had not encountered this anywhere else but said the same attitude pervaded Ireland in the 80s.
A friend who left Ireland for the middle east in her 40s 5 years ago has never looked back. She had never had a relationship here but she met a lovely guy (another ex-pat) in the middle east. She said she never lived until she left Ireland. Another friend and I would leave in a heartbeat if we didn’t have family responsibilities.
However you seem to have your mind made up and I wish you the best.
Elle, thanks for the comment with an “air of negativity, defeat and depression” about same. Kind of amusing and classicly Irish. My reintegration begins …
A friend who left Ireland for the middle east in her 40s
This is interesting, Elle. Where in the middle east?
There is a commenter on a different blog I read who has lived in the ME for 30+ years. He’s mentioned cultural differences numerous times, particularly the fact that despite widespread material poverty there is a genuine kindness and hospitality extended toward strangers and non-family, and that people have time for people. He has backed this up with numerous anecdotes. It is clear where his heart now lies.
I contrast this with the Ireland I know, which is the complete opposite. I wonder if the pessimism in Ireland you cite is rooted not just in the political corruption which has transferred massive wealth to the banking, building, and political classes, but more in the fact that most Irish people give a monkey’s about anything other than themselves, their bank account, and of course their own families. There seems to be a celebration of individualism as a virtue. The behaviour of many landlords in the current Dublin rent bubble is indicative of this mindset.
Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland is the loneliest, most individualistic, and most soulless place I have ever lived (and I have lived in the U.S.).
SCREAMING for a break! the s button on my phone is dodgy 🙂
It sounds like you have a good plan. I think this is definitely a “trust your gut” situation and that the answer will reveal itself before September 2015. I’ll be watching your updates with interest!
Speaking personally, I believe deeply in the importance of “vocation,” which may or may not be attached to a paid profession and has nothing to do with money. This is very much what motivates me. If you are similarly motivated, it’s a hard call to determine just how to fulfil this longing, especially since it is not he primary motivator in most people’s lives, certainly not in Ireland in 2014 whether in Medicine or even in the traditionally vocational professions such as teaching (I speak first-hand – I know Ireland well – long story :-)).