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home : commentary : thisissue November 22, 2017

Women's work
Norma Smith Olson, left, and Kathy Magnuson
by Norma Smith Olson and Kathy Magnuson

Drive. Focus. Determination. Ambition.

These adjectives are often applied in a complimentary way in our culture to males. They imply someone who is hardworking and reliable, a high achiever. They indicate someone who knows how to get things done, is influential and powerful.

When these adjectives are applied to females, our culture often paints a different picture - someone who is pushy and controlling, who has no sense of humor. You know - the B-word.

Decades of research at institutions such as NYU, Princeton, Rutgers, Lawrence University and Harvard have repeatedly shown that women face real social penalties for displaying the characteristics that lead to success.

It's not news to women that when we are strong and outspoken we can be labeled "abrasive." We have broken the cultural rules that say likable - or "good" women - are supposed to be warm and nurturing and compliant. It is a double standard.

Our patriarchal culture is uncomfortable with powerful women. Witness how Hillary Rodham Clinton has been criticized as too harsh and not warm enough. She is a strong, smart, capable person who is not afraid to use her brain and voice. And she is a woman.

In this issue we look at why we do what we do, paid or not. In spite of cultural barriers or family history or being in the right or wrong place at the time, how do we come to do the work we do? Often our work is simply out of necessity. We need to provide income for ourselves and our families to live. Sometimes our work feels like a "calling" - the right fit for our interests, talents and skills.

When we asked our readers why they do the work they do, they said that work "fits me like a glove and allows me to share my passion," "helping other people deal with their grief helped me to deal with mine," and simply that "one things leads to another."

We feel both lucky and humbled to be able to do the work we do at the Minnesota Women's Press - sharing women's stories and voices. Our tagline is ambitious: Changing the Universe Through Women's Stories. We are driven, focused and determined to make a difference through our work.

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Coming up:

theme is "Women and Politics" When has politics been personal to you? When has the personal been political for you? Tell us about it. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: September 10, 2016
October Advertising Sections:
• Health and Wellness Guide
• Smart Women's Guide to Voting
• Women and Pets Guide
• GoSeeDo/Calendar Guide
Deadline: September 10, 2016

November's theme Is "walls and bridges" and we're asking: When have you encountered a wall or a bridge? Tell us about it. Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: October 10, 2016
November advertising sections:
• Education and Lifelong Learning Guide
• Celebrations Guide
• Girlfriends' Guide to Giving
• Holiday Guide
• GoSeeDo/Calendar Guide
Deadline: October 10, 2016

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