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Rise of the Female Breadwinners: Brenner Stiles

Photo: Photo by Sarah Lyons, License: N/A

Photo by Sarah Lyons

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Brenner Stiles

35; divorced
Children: Daughter, 17, son, 10
Job title: Peer support specialist with Department of Veteran Affairs
Estimated annual income: $50,000-$75,000 Education: B.A., enrolled in M.B.A. program

How did you get to be the primary breadwinner?

To be honest with you, I think it goes way, way back to when I was a child. First of all, I grew up as an only child for the first 10 years and I was always very independent, very active, a go-getter, busy-body. I wanted to do everything, I wanted to compete against the boys and play Barbies with the girls… [and] I’ve just always focused on goals. …. So I think the reason why I’m the primary breadwinner is because it’s just in my nature. I always joke that if I were a man, I would have been an awesome husband. I just do it all. I am not the kind of woman that believes that I need to date a specific kind of man, who has to make the same kind of money that I do or has to have the same type of education. My boyfriend has no college education. He works on and off in the oil fields. He makes money, but sometimes there are dry periods and he’s not making any money. So then I have to be the one to pick up things. I’ve always just been an independent woman…I don’t care if I was married to a man who was a millionaire. If I had to, I’d volunteer my time doing something, that’s just me. I’m just a busy-body and I think that’s why I’ll always be the primary breadwinner.

Describe your current job

I’ll try not to get emotional, but I understand the veterans a lot more [Ed. Note: Stiles is a disabled veteran]. I can be so much more empathetic and help veterans restore their honor… I’ll be dealing with a lot of post-traumatic stress and mental disorders. It’s a tough job but I’m excited for it.

Is this the job that you thought you’d always be doing?

To be honest with you, no. But I took the Briggs-Meyer personality test and it said that I was in the right line of work, as a public person… social services, basically. Did I always dream of that? No. I always wanted to be that business-type person, but then again, now that I’m looking at my own personality, I have a lot of love and compassion and I realize that’s not for me. I could never work in the corporate world… because I have a lot of ethics and I’m just not a cold-hearted person. Money is not really the object of my desire. … I one day see myself working in foreign countries, maybe for the U.N. or something like that, offering aid. … Other than that, no, I never saw myself in that light as a kid. As a matter of fact, I never saw myself having kids as a kid. I never dreamed of the knight in shining armor. I always thought of myself as a woman in a business suit. But I’m happy with what I do.

At what age do you plan to retire?

Lord willing I want to retire 55-56. Just to get a laugh out of people, I say ‘when I get older I’m going to be one of those ladies that’s really, really skinny and really sexy with A LOT of make-up, and big Texas hair and the newest Cadillac on the market and gold teeth or something.’… I feel like when you’re that old and you’ve accomplished what you want to accomplish and you have nothing else to do in life, you can do whatever and you don’t care what people think… I think right now as a professional you have to be very careful about the way you look, the way you act, the way you dress, what you say. It’s like living in a box. I’m a very free-natured person but because I have kids and I have to maintain a certain lifestyle, I have to be very careful about what I do. …You have to be very careful with your reputation.

Rise of SA’s Female Breadwinners
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