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Professor stresses career vocation

Abby Richardson | Thursday, October 26, 2006

The challenge of balancing both a career and family – a thought that worries many college students – served as the focus of Boston University professor Claire Wolfteich’s Tuesday night talk at Saint Mary’s.

As a professor and mother of three, Wolfteich came to the College’s Stapleton Lounge as part of the Center for Spirituality’s 2006 Endowed Fall Lecture series to discuss the changing views of women in the workplace.

“Work is a vocation,” Wolfteich said. “Women are primarily seen as mothers.”

This stereotype, she said, has historically been a threat to women working outside the house. Over time, however, more women have dissolved that image and pursued careers, she said.

Wolfteich said this change has also stemmed from the religious world, and she reminded the audience of papal encyclicals that encouraged women to venture into the workplace.

In a 1995 encyclical, the late Pope John Paul II specifically thanks “women who work,” she said, which allows women to fulfill their desire to work.

“Work does influence women’s life in many ways,” Wolfteich said.

Careers give women a chance to redefine themselves and their lives, she said, and allows them to reshape their devotional life.

Wolfteich encouraged the women in the room to recognize their job as a vocation – something that not many do, she said, especially if work does not involve service or suffering.

“There needs to be more guidance for women,” Wolfteich said, pointing at the insufficient number of examples of women who balance work and home.

Although Wolfteich said there is also a lack of spiritual models to serve as guidance for working women, she believes it is only a matter of time before that changes.

While Wolfteich anticipates an increase of female role models, accounting professor MaryAnn Merryman said she believes society has already made positive strides to impress a balance of work and home life onto young women.

“The thing students have today that we didn’t have is role models,” Merryman said. “I value that. I take that part of my vocation seriously.”

Sophomore Andrea Krebs said she believes the educational experience should further address students’ potential role as mothers.

[Being a mother] hasn’t even been addressed,” Krebs said. “The focus is on the job and getting a good job.”