Is It an Ideal Career?
I am not an extreme feminist. I am not an extreme
anything. However, I am a firm believer in equality and freedom. I think
we are all entitled to the same rights and opportunities.
perhaps my views on feminism are influenced by the
fact that I was an only child and perhaps if I had had a brother,he (and
I) might have been treated differently.
My mother was the perfect example of all an ardent
feminist would hate: she waited hand and foot on my father and did it
all without complaint. When my father arrived home from work his soup
was served. Every night his clothes for the next day were left out with
the underwear thoughtfully placed on top so that he didn't even have to
think what to put on first.
His shoes were
always polished for him, his right to be first in the bathroom was never
challenged, and if he ever found himself in the kitchen, it was by
mistake. My mother was honestly content with this situstion and regarded
my father as a perfect husband: he was a caring, generous man-a good
provider. What more could any woman ask?
I remember being brought up, not as a male or
femaie,but simply as an individual, and although I suppose I must have
been influenced by my parents, I do not remember ever being eneouraged
to make marriage my major ambition.
I was fortunate enough to marry a man who did not
expect to chain me to the kitchen sink. He was quite capable of
polishing his own shoes , and mine too while he was at it. He was also
able to wash dishes , dust , or do anything else around the house. We
managed beautifully, with no strict male/female division of labour.
Our first baby arrived, much to our delight, six
months ago. I was more than pleased to give up my job as I had become
sick of it. I looked forward to my baby, and now he is here I actually
enjoy him very much. I have no intention of returning to Work, as I
think our son ought to have a parent to care for him for a few years at
least. Indeed, I could be very happy with the situation, were I not
experiencing quite unexpected problems adapting to my new role.
When I attended the ante-natal clinicfi, I remember
the doctor asking me what I 'was' , meaning my occupation, rather than
my blood group or star sign. Yet when I went to the baby clinic for the
first time, all they wanted to know was what my husband 'was'. I am
still wonderirig what difference that makes to anything, and I was hurt
that nobody wanted to know about me any more. Quite suddenly I was just
someone's wife and someone's mother. I no longer seemed to have an
identity of my
Where, previously, my husband was quite happy to help
around the house, his attitude now seems to be that if I'm at home all
day, I can do all the housework. And what bugs me most is that I find
myself going along with it. If the baby cries during the night, then
there is no question about who gets up. Have I taken leave of my senses?
My sense of self-esteern seems to be clogged with baby powder and baby
But the aspect of motherhood I've found hardest to
take has been the loss of earning power, and what I see as a loss of
financial independence. For seven years I enjoyed helping to bring home
the bacon; and money never caused a row. It does now.
Although the decision to have our baby and for me to
stay at home was a joint one, I feel totally dependent on my husband,
who is becoming more and more irritated by my stupidity. The indignity
of being financially dependent on my husband is something I feel very,
sensitive about. Logically, having a baby ought to have extended me as a
person: I should be the person I was plus the person I am, as a result
of my new experience.
It hasn't worked out like that. Motherhood seems to
have wiped out ten years of varied and interesting work experience and
taken me back, not forwards-a whole generation back. But the hig
difference between my mother and me is that she was happy and I am not.
I know a conflict that she couldn't have imagined.
Having a specia! day in honour of teachers is a fine
thing. But one day a year is not enough!
Where would the world be withocrt teachers? What hope
would there be for human progress? Teachers deserve the respect of the
whole of society the whole year round. But they haven't got it. What is
most remarkable and regrettable is that in this great land of China,
with its ancient civilization and traditional respect for learning,
teachers are so looked d'own upon that it is necessary to set aside a
day to show respect for them.
Why is this? I believe that teachers' low social
status is inseparable
from their I'ow pay, and poor living and: working conditions-though
these are gradually being improved. But still the state allocation of
funds for education is, per capila, amongthe lowest in the world. So
teachers are, in gengeral,under-paid and overworded-especially those in
pre-school, primary and secondary education.
the faat that Comrade Deng Xiaoping immediately onv resuming office
pointedout: education is a continuous process and the pay and'conditions
of teachers from the most elementary level must be improved. This
statement was most encouraging', but progress since it was made, some
years ago,. has been painfully slow.
So today, who wants to become a teacher? Who wants to
marry a teacher? When far better prospects are offered in other
does not live by bread alone " -but he can't live without it. Of
course many fine dedicated people are still willing, even eager to
become and remain teachers. Many, but not enough. That's one reason why
there are middle sehool classes of 70 and more pupils , an intolerabl'e
situation. The lower the number of students in a class , the higher the
quality of education can be.
Of course I am not speaking personally. Looking back
on, 35 years as a teacher in China I feel grateful. As a teacher here I
have had a happy and rewarding life. Being surrounded by young people
has helped to keep me young. But my pay and conditions are well above
those of my Chinese colleagues.A big and rapid improvement in their
social status, together with a similar improvement in their pay, working
cond'i~ions and bousing, will attract more and more fine people to the
teaching profession. Th is a vital and urgent necessity for China's
For many of you this will be your last year at shcool
and now is the time for you to begin thinking seriously about your
future careers. In order to give you as much help as possible, I have
drawn up a list of questions that you ought to ask yourself.
"Have I given thought to what I would like to be doing 15 to 20
yeas from now?" Bear in mind that the career you choose will affect
the future course of your life. It will partially determine your range
of friends, your choice of husband or wife, where you live, your
recreational activities. and other important aspects of your life.
"Have I a clear knowledge of my abilities and
aptitudes, as well as my interests and aims?" & honest about
your weak points as well as your strong ones. Take a really good look at
yourself and give real thought to the kind of person you are, what you
are good at, and what kind of person you want to be.
"Do I know the kind of occupations in which
people like myself tend to find success and satisfaction?" Once you
have examined and found out about yourself , your next question is what
you can really do with yourself. You can gain some idea of what other
people, with similar abilities and interests. consider to be important
and challenging in the careers that they chose , by talking to people
already in the careers that interest you. Watch these people at work.
"Have I weighed carefully the immediate
advantages against the longterm
prospects offered by the jobs I am considering?" Will the
occupation you select give you satisfaction, not just when you start,
but in the years to come? Realize now the importance of education in all
fields, technical and professional. Remember that when promotion occurs,
preference is usually given to educated persons-other things being
"Have I talked about my job references with my
careers master, my parents, my teachers and my headmaster?"
Remember they have a tremendous furid of experience from which you
should benefit. They can help you think about the job in which you will
find satisfaction and challenge. They can stimulate you to give careful
thought to what you really want to do, and offer useful suggestions as
to how you might take full advantage of your personal qualities and
"Have I made a real study of jobs in Hong
Kong?" It takes a very long time to find the work that suits you
the best. Reading about and studying a number of occupations is
something you should do over and over again. In Hong Kong very little
written material is provided about the careers available. But there is
some. You or your parents should obtairi it as soon as possible. Your
careers master will be able to help you in this, if your school has one.
"How do I regard my job? Is it just a means of
getting money to do the things that I want to do? Is the work important
to me and my future happiness and contentment? Is it a combination of
both these things?" The above questions and their answers should
give you some better ideas about how you should start planning your
career. Your life-long job cannot be approached in any kind of haphazard
fashion. It must be considered carefull, examined from every angle,
talked over with those who know you and those who can help you in any