Glossy Covers: Julia Stone for yen magazine

Glossy Covers: Julia Stone for yen magazine

On a flight home yesterday, I sat next to a lovely woman named Karen who has worked in HR and I.T. and is now a full-time mum. We got talking about careers, amongst other things, but more pointedly how many career paths remain hidden to us until we leave school/university and get out into the world and meet people who've taken the road less travelled. 

While school career counsellors back in the day would push girls into "women's jobs", like nursing or secretarial roles, even since feminism's second wave caused a tide of girls to enter the traditionally male professions of engineering, law, medicine, politics, accounting, I.T. and science, women's magazines have tended to highlight the more 'glamorous' careers of the beautiful people, like those in the fashion, entertainment and creative industries.

To that end, we get a fairly limited view of the opportunities open to us, as well as the notion that one can be equally as happy working in a post office as they can in a fashion office. Of course, glossy editors project onto their pages what they themselves aspire to (just as bloggers like I do), while the nature of the content (and advertising) would suggest a fashion designer profile would complement the book better than a story on, say, archaeologists (and if the story is on archaeologists, they need to be hot and wearing Ralph Lauren).

"With International Women's Day just passed, it's a great time to acknowledge all the women who do amazing things every day – from helping a friend, volunteering, looking after a family or having a successful career to a multitude of other acts and gestures that would take too long to list here," writes yen magazine editor Annie Sebel in her latest letter. "Yen is always one to champion inspiring women and this issue is full of them. There's the positive and sunny disposition of music success Julia Stone, Alison Mosshart rocking it as the super-confident frontwoman for The Kills, the one-of-a-kind Amanda Palmer who unapologetically won't conform to, well, anything, and Melbourne baker and entrepreneur Hayley McKee. But a special place is reserved for Australian nurse, filmmaker and author Alison Thompson...who talks us through the hurdles, successes and still-huge task of rebuilding Haiti."

While the efforts of those working towards charitable causes are celebrated across the glossy spectrum, it would be truly excellent to see a greater mix of professions represented, while acknowledging the seemingly "ordinary" professions that women make extraordinary through their performance, dedication and spirit. We all want to be inspired, but not necessarily told what to aspire to, just as many of us like to have a clue about what's in fashion but also how to discern what will suit us.

In this day of psychological testing by HR departments vetting prospective new recruits, it's odd that we don't consider what kind of fulfillment on a values basis we might get from different careers, as apposed to how our skill set or talents meet the criteria.

Girl With a Satchel