There has to be a better way to make it to the top and stay there than to sacrifice our inherent motherhood responsibilities. I know the better way…
I have been doing a lot of reading and writing lately about the obstacles and fallacies faced by women, especially mothers, when they attempt to make strides in their careers while still performing 70-80% of household chores. Feedback from my articles on LinkedIn demonstrate a wide range of opinions, from men who acknowledge our plight and want to be part of the solution, to women who deny the fact that gender inequality even exists. All this conflicting discourse tells me we still don’t understand what true equality looks like.
First of all, a woman who wants everything (and let’s define “everything” as a family, a career, and a personal life) is up against a mountain of difficulties, especially if she wants to make it to the top in her career. We can divide her challenges into outward and inward obstacles.
On the outward side, there is the obvious: we are still not equal in the workplace. Women will never be equal in the workplace unless we make changes to the workplace. Women bear children. We shouldn’t be disadvantaged in our careers because of our biology.
What irks me more than any other is that women still have to fight against our society to be respected as both professionals and mothers. We have been filling both roles for decades now. When will our nature be considered a norm instead of a hindrance?
The tragic irony is we are expected to be superhuman mothers in our homes, yet we are not respected in the workplace for our ability to bear children. I’m not denying there are some men who help out around the home and with raising their children as much or more than their spouses. But by and large, women are still the primary caregivers. Unfortunately, the dual responsibility of being a career woman AND a mother wears on us and we struggle to be both.
The inward issues we face include our fears of not being good enough, of not having enough time, strength, and support to enable us to climb the ladder and stay comfortably at the top.
From the minute we wake up until we flop on the bed with exhaustion at the end of the day, there are many moving pieces tearing at us little by little. And sometimes we can’t sleep for thinking of the mile-long list of things we have yet to do. It’s enough to bring the strongest woman to her knees. One woman who commented on my LinkedIn article has found a “solution” for devoting time to both her career and her caretaker responsibilities–she sleeps only four hours each night.
On top of all this, we’re expected to make it look effortless, like we’re not even trying. The inward and outward pressures women face are so unbearable that many succumb and settle for much, much less than they want to (and could) achieve. Many of us falter and never reach our goals. Are you surprised?
For men and women alike, our first step must begin with understanding that wanting equality does NOT mean treating women like men. Women need systems that give us the unique support women (not men) need.
From my experience, I know it’s the women who display male leadership characteristics like power, strategy, and persuasion who make it to the top. That means a whole lot of talent is left behind because not all women are outspoken or have warrior blood running in their veins. Sadly, many talented women who are introverted, humanistic, and quieter are left wondering why their voices just don’t seem to be heard.
Successful women like me have LEARNED how to deal with men in the workplace. I know how to present, prepare, and negotiate to be taken seriously by my male colleagues. Unfortunately, it means total separation of my personal life and career. This fact is becoming more and more clear to me, and the self-realization doesn’t come without pain.
What I find myself wondering is, did successful women who practiced this separation help or hurt our advancements? Could this be the reason that Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, irritates so many of us? On one hand, she’s right–we need to lean in harder and I know she is coming from an honest place. On the other hand, not all of us can be expected to want to follow that formula. Her way should be one of the many formulas from which women can choose to reach success. But, without functioning role models to show us other ways, where do we get the know-how?
As a professional business and career coach, my mission keeps becoming clearer. I’ve realized my own call-to-action is now even stronger. My movement, The Women’s Code, is dedicated to giving women the confidence, the know-how, and the tools they need to become self-sufficient and self-supporting.
The Women’s Code defines leadership principles for women. It sets standards for a new code of conduct and it asks for workplaces that treat women to be as women. The Women’s Code is our path to equality that fits our nature. Let’s start making these changes today because that’s the only way women can make it to the top–and stay there.
My question to you is this: What can you do in your circles to contribute to this movement?
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I used to be frustrated when people didn’t see things the same ways I did. I’ve learned to accept that it’s not about agreeing or forcing ideas. It’s about all of us being open to new ideas and to support each other so we can find common ground to work from.
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I like that I can be a different person in different situations. I am Beate the intrepid entrepreneur and career coach, and I am also Beate the fun-loving, wine-sipping California girl. There is a time and place for all sides of my personality. The trick is to know when to turn on the masculine and the feminine side more.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
I am incredibly proud of my daughter, Gina. As a career woman and single mother, every day I felt I was failing in at least one of these roles. I realize now that she understood I was trying my best and that inspires Gina (now 22) to do her best, too.
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
One thing I want to work on is being able to “switch off” better. When I’m working and pushing through barriers and rallying troops, I can build up so much steam that I have a hard time relaxing when the workday is over and out of my get-stuff-done-mode. Worse yet is when I don’t even stop to unwind and just keep working through the evening. I sometimes need someone else to pull me away from my computer.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
…short commute to my home office!