Last week we covered two views concerning leadership for working women. (See: How Working Women Cope: To Lean In or Not.) Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, recently published Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead to encourage women to aspire to executive leadership roles. In Part 2 we look at ways to improve coping with “leaning in” while facing the realities of our families and business structures.
If you don't want to lean in, working part time can help women stay in touch with the realities of new trends, new social media, and new ways of doing business. Continuous awareness of changes in the market requires staying involved. Short-term contracts may keep skills fresh.
Job sharing and flex time are great ideas for both men and women, especially with our aging workforce. Starting a home-based business creates an ongoing opportunity for leadership. But not everyone is suited for self-employment. Assess your strengths carefully. More women can cope better with at least a few days of telecommuting a week.
More people are faced with monitoring health issues with aging parents. Particularly difficult is the worker with his or her own serious illness, a disabled child, or troubled teenagers. More part-time jobs could make a difference in their lives and our economy.
Discussion on this topic is healthy for all. If we could change the mindset that women are too strong, too aggressive, or too timid, that would be healthy for all of us. Although distinctly different, both women and men make good leaders. And we can profit from the “lean-in” discussions.
What a few famous females say
- Gloria Steinem
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.“
- Katherine Weymouth, publisher and chief executive of The Washington Post
“I also absolutely believe that changing corporate policies and corporate culture would help address the widely acknowledged dearth of women in senior positions at U.S. companies. But we still need to sit at the table, speak up (without speaking a sentence in the form of a question, one of my pet peeves) and not be afraid that someone might not like us.”
Be sure to read all of her article “How Do You Lean In Without Someone to Lean On?.”
- Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University
From the post in the Atlantic magazine, titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.”
“In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else's schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be — at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office — at least not for very long.”
- Carly Fiorina
“Women are the most underutilized resource in the world. That's an economic fact.”
What a few professional female friends say
- VP-HR, recently retired, two grown children, worked in banking and consumer products in dual career family:
“Life is too short to ride in the middle seat in coach for too long.”
She's enjoying her grandchildren and traveling extensively. She has not regretted the angst in her career and feels very fortunate to be able to retire.
- Engineer-telecom, married, young two children:
“I think Sheryl is right in a way — but, women don't like her message because they're already working too hard and don't want to lean in anywhere anymore.”
- Purchasing Agent-Consumer products and IT industries, grown kids:
“I'm too busy to talk. I'm slammed this week.”
- HR-VP, Banking, technology, no kids:
“I don't have time to talk with you as we have people from corporate coming to visit.”
So that's it. Women are coping in various ways, some more than others. They are too busy and overworked, but they are coping. Let's hear more of your comments. Your insight is valuable!
Ruth Glover established Career Consultations with four children at home. They are all, thankfully, grown and living on their own.