Do women have to act like men when they enter the professions?
The person who has most helped me to ponder this question is Edith Stein: an intellectual and a woman of deep faith who worked in philosophy and education. Stein was raised Jewish in Germany, became atheist, converted to Christianity and became a Carmelite nun, then was killed in WWII for her Jewish heritage. She was canonized a saint in 1998.
Stein points out that women's temperament will likely lead them in greater proportion to certain professions like art, history, and the humanities. But she insisted that some women will also shine in physics, medicine, politics, and diplomacy. Stein is right on when she says "there is no profession which cannot be practiced by a woman" (Woman, p. 47).
But beyond saying that women can shine in every profession, Stein calls women to exercise their professions as women: "The participation of women in the most diverse professional disciplines could be a blessing for the entire society, private or public, precisely if the specifically feminine ethos would be preserved" (Woman, p. 49). What does this mean?
In a summary of Stein's life and teachings, Laura Garcia writes:
[Stein] did not argue that biology is destiny, but that the physical differences between men and women profoundly mark their personalities. The woman's body stamps her soul with particular qualities that are common to all women but different from distinctively masculine traits. Stein saw these differences as complementary and not hierarchical in value, and so they should be recognized and celebrated rather than minimized and deplored. There are two ways of being human, as man or as woman.
Some recoil at assertions about biologically based differences between men and ...1
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