Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I have seen a couple of interviews with Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook exec who wrote a book about women in leadership. I have also read some of the backlash and commentary about her. While I agree that a woman in her position of uber-wealth has little notion of what it is like for average families and single moms to work and raise children.

However,  I don't disagree with much of what she has to say about keeping your foot on the gas of your career right up until the time you need to slow down or stop.

I know that I have gone for decades without being able to determine what I want without a whole list of people and their wants and needs filtering my every thought. At 1 1/2 years since our youngest left for college, I am at the point of unscrambling that filter a bit.

I don't think I am alone in this. We women try to manage everything right up front, to plan and figure out how to make it work. If we are doing this in our work lives before the big issues are at hand - then we are putting the brakes on our careers based on what might be. Something men are certainly not doing and it holds women back.

I have obsessed over this issue when it comes to my daughters.  What to advise them about work and marriage and families.  My kids were grateful for my presence as an at home mom.  Personally I think it is the ideal - but I didn't have work or a career I love.  I didn't have a need to be out there to feel fulfilled.  And I certainly am not going to judge the women who do have those things.  I just don't know how they do it unless they make a lot of money, have a lot of flexibility and have a lot of help.

I have also paid dearly for not keeping a foot in the workplace for the 16 years I was home.  I have been working in low paying and unsatisfying jobs far beneath my education and training since our lives experienced an unplanned for upheaval sending me out to work again.

The big reason this whole issue is important to me really isn't the part about work/family balance.  It is the part about women having a different perspective on things which is so important to bring into corporations and government and all aspects of our society.

We have a different voice and way of looking at things which we need to inject into the decision making process if our country is ever going to move forward in a more humane and thoughtful way.  We need to encourage and teach girls how to be leaders and not hold back from taking those roles.  So I agree with Sheryl Sandberg when she says "Lean In":

"If more women lean in, we can change the power structure of our world and expand opportunities," she wrote. "Shared experience forms the basis of empathy and, in turn, can spark the institutional changes we need. More female leadership will lead to fairer treatment for all women."

I would say for all people.


Gary's third pottery blog said...

you hear that Scandanavian countries try harder to make family and children and work come together more easily, and wish that was true in the USA!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am so grateful that I always kept one toe (just 5 hours work a week) in the workplace. It has made all the difference with my being able to have a fulfilling, financially rewarding career now. I preach this to my girls--and my boys. I don't think it has to be mom at home, but I think to have one person have flexibility to be home with sick kids, etc. it makes life a lot more pleasant and less stressed for everyone.