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In sociology, the term superwoman has been used to describe a Western woman who works hard to manage multiple roles of a worker, a homemaker, a volunteer, etc.[1]

The term derived a number of expressions, such as superwoman syndrome,[1] superwoman squeeze (a pressure on a superwoman to perform well her multiple roles),[2] and superwoman complex (an expectation of a superwoman that she can and should do everything).[3]

The notion of "superwoman" differs from that of "career woman" in that the latter one commonly includes sacrifice of the family life in favor of career, while a superwoman strives to excel in both.[3]

Post second-wave feminism

The notion was first recognized in the post second-wave feminism American society of 1970s-1980s, with the shift of the woman's traditional role of a housewife towards more career-oriented way of life. This life involved the pursuit of both traditional female roles in the home and with children, as well as the pursuit of traditionally masculine goals in the form of jobs and public social status.

An American feminist Betty Friedan in her book The Second Stage argues that "superwomanhood" of 1980s have in fact led to double enslavement of women, both at home and at work. Her advice for feminists was to step up to the "second stage" of the feminist movement and to struggle for reshaping of both gender roles and redefining social values, styles, and institutional structures, for the fulfillment to be achievable in both public and private lives without the necessity to sacrifice one for another. [4]

See also



  1. ^ a b "The superwoman syndrome", by Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, Morton H. Shaevitz, 1984, ISBN 0446513105
  2. ^ "The Superwoman Squeeze", Newsweek", May 19, 1980, pp. 72–79
  3. ^ a b "Superwoman Complex A Pain In The Ego", by Judith Serrin, Boca Raton News, July 28, 1976
  4. ^ "Feminist thought: a more comprehensive introduction", by Rosemarie Tong, 1998, ISBN 0813332958, pp. 27,28 (a summary of Friedan's position from The Second Stage)

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