A Woman in Business Part 2

On Friday I posted about my experiences as a businesswoman. When reflecting on what I wrote, I realized that I had written as a businesswoman. I would be remiss not to speak as a woman in business. These are two very different things. 

I am a businesswoman. This is true. I am strong, proud, and good at what I do. I have been recognized and rewarded for my abilities. Everything that I had to say on Friday is true. However, there is another side to this story. The flip side to this coin. Everyone experiences it to some extent or another: a pull between two very different things. We all want to be in two places, two careers, love two different people, two diametrically opposite life tracks, or something as simple as two different sandwiches for lunch. This is wonderfully summed up in the quote below.

Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.
A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.
— 'Tuesdays with Morrie' by Mitch Albom

For a woman in business, that rubber band is the career and the family life. It seems at times a taboo subject among businesswomen. I recall one young woman being afraid to admit that despite all the effort she had put into university and career building, what she really wanted was a family. I am not afraid to admit that at all. I love being a strong, proud, determined businesswoman. I love to travel for my job, and experience all it has to offer. But I would happily scale back, or even give it all away, to raise a family. Just as the businesswoman needs to be fulfilled, so too, does the woman in business.

And it seems, despite the taboo, more and more women feel this way. In her NY Times article 'The Opt-Out Revolution,' Lisa Belkin explains how an equal number of men and women go into the top universities, law schools, and corporate training programs but only 16% of law firm partners are women. Similarly only 16% of corporate officers are women. Women are either scaling back or leaving the workforce to raise families (read the full article here). Another article from The Atlantic titled 'Moms Who Cut Back at Work Are Happier' was written nearly a decade after Belkin's article and it shows the trend is still in full force. Here is a quote:

“But these results are consistent with a pattern found regularly in research on women’s work and family preferences: Most (married) mothers would prefer not to work full-time, and the most popular option for women, when it comes to juggling work and family, is part-time work.
— 'Moms who Cut Back at Work are Happier'

I wonder if this topic is taboo because of the businesswoman's fear of what people may think. The implications of admitting you are a businesswoman who also wants children. It seems that in some office environments, woman fear that is the equivalent of letting sharks know there is blood in the water. She will could be perceived as not being 100% dedicated to her job. Or having a flaw or weakness. While nothing could be further from the truth, she is torn to shreds by colleagues who want her position, salary, and office.

Being a woman who wants children is one of the most natural things in the world. It is what we are designed to do. Admitting you do should not be a weakness nor jeopardize your career. It should be celebrated and encouraged. Businesswomen excel at multitasking and getting things done. If they can juggle multiple clients then they can juggle a career and a family. Or if they like take a break and make a comeback. All options have been done and can be done. The workforce should be glad to have these capable women among them for as long as they do, and should welcome them as them come in and out of the workplace.

Whether trend or taboo, women in business are pulled between family life and work life. Many it seems fall the way of family over business. I would happily become one of them.

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