I am old enough to remember women burning their bras and living during times when women's roles changed drastically. A lot of it is very good. Some of it is bunk. Like this COO of Facebook who is rich enough to have an amazing career. That is great. For those single moms and poor women who can barely put food on the table, this is a non-story.
What gripes me is, when does having it all mean that you shun your responsibilities in caring for your children--be it for a father or mother? Where is the good in a career that sucks the life out of you and leaves little time or mental bandwidth for your family? The only reason a man ever could have a family and "lean into" his career was because he had a good wife. I have often wanted a wife. Someone to take care of the details of life or back when I had children when I was divorced it would have been nice to have had someone taking care of the details and have a warm, clean home and dinner on the table...pure June Cleaver style. I marveled over what I gave my ex.
It was not to be so; however, I did stay at home for 15 years and I dedicated my life to my family. My ex-husband was a CEO. I did not want to give the raising of my children to anyone. We were poor by some standards but we chose to be one income. We did not sell out to fancy cars or fancy vacations or keeping up with the Jones'. We did eventually have the dream home. I did not miss those precious early moments. Today, most families cannot afford to be one income, so women work more out of necessity, but something or someone has got to give.
Today, in the article on CNN they were asking what stands in the way of women rising to the top. I would say that one big piece of that puzzle is OTHER WOMEN. Some women who want to win or who choose to have careers seem to do a few things that bug me. This has been my observation about some women.
As a women who stayed at home, I was shunned by working women. For example, I was at a company picnic for my ex's company. I was sitting with a bunch of working women and in awe of the things they were doing. I was usually home with our three kids and this was a rare view for me to see the lives of working women. Everyone was remarking who they were and what they did. Some were from the company and others were spouses of guys who worked there. It came to be my turn, I said, " I am a stay at home mom." Crickets. They literally turned their backs on me and continued to talk. Why would anyone do this? Either I was a reminder of things left undone or they figured I was an idiot. I will never know.
I also found, that once I got into the working world that women do not work together for the greater good of women. Some do, of course, but there are pockets of mean women who climb over the backs of others to get promoted. I experienced mean women in four jobs:
1) One women lied about me being gone from the office when I was out on a trip with a team from the office doing work. She wanted to get me fired. This woman was someone I had promoted into a job at this company. Someone we had interviewed and I thought was amazing. Who does this kind of thing?
2) In another job, I had problem solving job ideas and was basically told to sit down and shut up and do my job and not worry about it--as it was something outside of my job. I went ahead and got the problem fixed. I was praised by management and I got shot down in my annual review for not doing what I was told. This by a woman.
3) A boss literally lied to me on several occaisions that persons A, B, and C where unhappy with me. I went to see persons A, B, and C to appoligize and set things right and found out this was not the case and that each of them valued my attention to detail. Later this boss was submitted to a company psychologist and they were going to relieve her from the position, but that division got axed.
4) Another female director took joy making women on her team cry. She fired 12 admins in the 15 months I was there and fired half the marketing team. She fired a woman she hired for a magazine manager, for no cause, sending the woman into a tailspin because her career had never been tarnished...it was the most dysfunctional environment I ever saw and it took several more years for that director to be fired for cause.
So, women which are you? Do you help your sisters? Do you climb over their backs? Can you have it all? Probably not. I can say I have no real regrets. I think I have had it all because I put my family first, then I went for my career. I am still at the top of what I do professionally and I moved a few thousand miles so my husband and I could rejoin the lives of at least two of my kids and four grand children. Due to my divorce the kids took the hit along with me but we all landed on our feet and life is good.
If having it all means you let go of family, think again. Yes, you can have the big job and the big bucks and the BMW, and the trips to Hawaii, but if your kids grow up to be shallow and not to value love and family, why do it? There are happy mediums and what I think really needs to happen is that companies need to embrace families more. They need to value the people on their teams and not set unreasonable expectations. Happy employees make good employees.
I also wish that women would stop mirroring behavior that was not good in men and say it is ok. It sucked to be on the other end of that equation and it will suck for those on the other end of where these women are coming from. Can't we rise to the top as women and do it better? Just saying.