I have male and female relatives who are religious, so I am somewhat familiar. I think most laypeople at least in the USA, which historically was a “doing” country, tend to consider religious in terms of their jobs, rather than who they are, or “becoming”. The whole concept of “perfection” is misunderstood; it really refers to ongoing conversion, rather than some people thinking they are (completed) perfect. The concept of poverty is sometimes abused; I read too much about religious who don’t live a life of personal luxury, but travel around the country to speak at justice seminars, take time off to pick up that third Master’s degree, and seem to focus a lot on “empowerment”, including empowerment of themselves. (Is that CNN calling me to quote a response to what the Vatican did yesterday?) Most laity can’t afford to do what these “vow of poverty” people do.
The vow of obedience was clearer in the past, when religious communities were more hierarchical; there were lottttsss of opportunities to have to sacrifice your self-will, and saints have mentioned humility as a path to holiness. Some of today’s communities are more egalitarian, I don’t know how the obedience charism works; including how it works with their local bishop.
I have been speaking about many of the older religious orders, where many of the sisters or priests I have known grew up right before Vatican II, later said they felt “transformed” often after reading Teillard de Chardin or some other thinker, and then spent the next 50 years reliving the 1960s. These orders aren’t getting vocations and are disappearing. Other orders are more in tune with what happened before, during and since the 1960s. They are getting all the vocations.