"Show me a woman without guilt and I'll show you a man"... (Marie Wilson, Founder of the White House Project)
Do women have to choose between being a mother and having a career? This is the ultimate question and there is no right answer. As women we should have the ability to CHOOSE...This point is clearly meant for women who are in financial situations where they have the ability to choose between work and home. And this is by no means meant to demean men but more to create awareness and confidence for women. Now that I have added my disclaimer I will continue... I have watched TED talk, 60 minutes and read about the infamous Sheryl Sandberg but I truly enjoyed Lean In. Sheryl has an incredible ability to illustrate the plight of the working woman without sounding judgmental. She asks an important question to women...What would you do if you weren't afraid? Would we take that promotion, ask for the raise, negotiate our contract or ask for a more flexible schedule? I cannot imagine the freedom in business and life if we truly lived our lives without being afraid. Women have spent centuries fighting for equality, recognition, choice, and fair pay but maybe we also hold ourselves back...Did you know that about 41% of mothers are primary breadwinners and 23% are co-breadwinners contributing at least a quarter of the family's earnings? We have the ability, experience and opportunity to be successful so why do we hold ourselves back? It is exactly the reason that Sheryl wrote this book...We intentionally or unintentionally hold ourselves back when we should be leaning in. I love the value of a woman's advice in business because I can identify with them better than a man. I am a woman, a mother, wife and I have a career but I am also just Mary...I don't need to downplay my femininity, success, or tenacity. This is why I feel hopeful after reading this book. I really felt like having beautiful children and a husband makes us whole but women also have the ability to do more...Men can truly HAVE it all without guilt but Mothers cannot. I am sorry I don't have a remedy to fix this and neither does Sheryl but she does come up with a few valid points. One point is based on hard data and evidence that working mothers actually spend as much time with our children as our mothers did. Crazy right? But the truth is that as working mothers we spend at least 11 hours a week on routine care giving, and fostering our children's development which is as much time as our stay at home mothers did with us. (SAHM today spend approx 17 hours a week) Sheryl states that the pressures of society on "whats best for the child" is based on emotion and NOT evidence. I can and WILL be an amazing mother whether I am at home or in the office. And the second point that I LOVE is that dual income families can be advantageous to our child's development especially our girls... Does that mean I wont feel bad if I miss an important milestone when I am out of the house? NO absolutely not I will feel sad about this but I will also know that I am providing my children a better life, increasing my own confidence and identity and teaching my children about work ethic. I don't want to share the entire book because I truly feel that ALL women should read this book whether you are at home or in the office. And men I encourage you to read it as well! I am in the process of going back to work and its a tough decision because whether we want to admit it not we are programmed to feel guilt. I love my children and the thought of not being with them everyday makes me sad. But I know they will be okay... I have amazing children, a supportive husband and excellent childcare. I am LUCKY...I have the opportunity to "lean in" and find my seat at the table. I am also lucky because I live in Canada and I had the ability to spend 12 months at home with my children. In the US women are given 3 months leave...At 3 months I was just figuring out how to be a mom let alone ready to leave my children. I have witnessed daily milestones that I would have missed if Canada did not offer such an amazing maternity package. And I also know I will get the "how do you do it all" question and as Sheryl says "Superwoman is the adversary of the women's movement." We can't do it all but we do what we can with the time we have. I also feel like I do 'have it all' because for me having it all is being happy and content with my life! Are we going to have laundry done, well balanced meals prepared and a clean house everyday? Probably not but we don't always achieve that momtastic state on a daily basis and I am home.
My goal is this: Encourage my son to treat women with respect and encourage my daughter to demand that respect. I hope when she enters the workforce she will be given fair pay, equal opportunity, and many female role models or mentors to guide her along the way. I want her to win a deal on merit and not be told "its because you are female and men like to buy from women..." I have experienced many moments when my gender was highlighted instead of my success and I want more for her. She deserves better and I hope that campaigns like ban bossy and the Lean In create societal awareness on women's right. Its time for women to ask themselves "what would you do if you weren't afraid?" and "will you lean in?" Going back to work makes me afraid but I plan to work hard, find success inside and outside the home and truly "lean in..."