OPINION: The term career woman needs to go

by Dec 18, 20153Plus

The phrase career woman is outdated and stereotyping

I am reliably informed by my 60’s burn-your-bra, feminist Mom, that the phrase career woman came into being to distinguish women who worked and wanted to purse a career, from those who chose not to. Stay at home Moms were in those days the majority. It frequently meant that a woman was choosing not to have children, therefore indicating  a preference to make a feminist statement.

career woman

The term career woman is loaded with bias

The Macmillan Dictionary definition of “career woman” which makes my Latino blood boil is this:

“a woman who is more interested in her career than in being married and having children. People who use this word often think this is a bad thing.”

So any young girl or boy who takes the time to look up the term in a mainstream, online dictionary is going to be slammed with this type of outdated and objectionable bias. It doesn’t even take the time to be subtle.


I am often times referred to as a “career woman.” My husband on the other hand is simply called… an accountant. He is never referred to as a “career man.” Implicit in this out-dated phrase are dozens of stereotypical biases related to the type of person I am, my relationship with my husband, my communication style, ambitions and my desire to have children. There is an assumption that the only focus in her life is my job, to the exclusion of everything else.

My husband is known for being a Harvard alumnus, an accountant, married, an excellent artist who plays a mean trumpet.  In short he is a man of many parts, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

But I also have many sides to my skills and personality. I am a woman who would love to have a family. I also love my job and believe that as women occupy 50% of the workforce, it’s time to drop these anachronistic and damaging labels.

I don’t see why working and having a family are seen to be mutually exclusive in the 21st century. Most women have to work to pay their bills and want to be active contributors to their household finances. In some homes, they are the household finances.

I include in all of this the equally obnoxious term “Career Mom” at least until we see the words “Career Dad.”

Read: When will we see the term “Career Dad”? 

But don’t even get me started on that one.

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Rita is a political and legal affairs consultant in Washington DC.





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