Posted by: jessicacooke11 | March 13, 2014





                Today we discussed how success is defined differently for all women. Some women feel their place is as a mother and other belong in top influential leadership positions. The fight for women equality in leadership is about being able to choose how to fulfill their lives. Unfortunately, there is an obligation associated with this new freedom.  In order for women to continue the progression and break down obstacles for getting top positions, women need to continue to reach and maintain those top influential roles. Because of this ‘obligation’ many women feel a pressure to survive and thrive. This throws off the normal ability to balance and section off time allotted to different priorities.  When women realize the unbalanced spread of time over family and work, many women are faced with a choice. If they leave the workforce, they face new obstacles of reentering at a later point. Because of this, I feel many women try to push through even if it may not be the right choice.

                The point of having women in those roles is to show that women can be just as effective as men and to give future women a role model to look up to.  But in this situation is it doing more harm than good?  When I see women working hard for their jobs, I see their drive and ambition. I see women who are successful and a good role model for future leaders.  What happens when the balance is thrown off and that drive and ambition comes at the expense of family time? Is that going to prove to be a new standard for leadership roles?


               This picture is a pretty accurate display of the “balance” in todays society for many working women. If mothers are out all day working, no matter how easy it is for women to obtain leadership positions, her girls may be turned off to those stressful leadership roles. Could this turn out to be a cyclical process after all this work towards equality? Could these women in high stress roles be deterring the future generations?  





  1. I believe that success has to be defined by each individual. For many women, success simply means having a family to call their own. For others, obtaining a high paying, high stress career is how they define success. Like we saw in the video today, it is possible to have both. I think it’s vital for women to stop basing their goals and their vision of success based on what society says success is for a woman. Like was said in one of the readings for today’s class, women often face a sort of double bind due to what society sees as a fitting role for a woman and what is economically logical for them, and often times, being a stay-at-home mom is not economically logical. I think that to be successful as a working mother it requires a significant amount of work, but like Dr. Shollen said in class, it requires different strategies in order to balance the two.

  2. I agree with Bethany. For some women, having a family is not a priority, and for some that’s all they have wanted in life. But I do believe women need to understand this balance and so do men. Something that frustrates me is how women seem to be the ones who have to sacrifice their jobs so they can stay at home with sick children but rarely do we see men who are willing to step down from their positions for the family, and no company would ever ask a man to do that. I believe men and women need to find a better balance of being at home and at work so their children understand that it is not just one parents responsibility to take on certain roles but both parents. Children need both parents to be accessible, not just one.

  3. I think it’s important for women to see other women in high leadership positions, but I also think it’s important for those women in the upper leadership roles to want to be there as well. Women should not feel forced to be role models, but rather they should empower and encourage other women to reach those higher leadership position. Your last question really intrigued me. Movies and television shows will portray busy mothers with illustrious careers not having any time for their children; if they have daughters, the daughter will usually view her mom in a somewhat negative light, and sometimes the jobs the mothers have as well. I wonder if in real life the same is true? Both of my parents split their time between home and work and while my mom was always on call at the hospital, I never hated her “busy” lifestyle and it didn’t deter me from trying to reach for leadership roles.

    I think we need to change the way we view staying at home with children or being a homemaker. In the Graff article, one of people she quoted said something how in a perfect fantasy, an ambitious person would only be able to marry someone that wanted to stay at home. I don’t think this is the correct way to look at things because I think people can be ambitious in wanting to stay at home, too. Like the two previous commenters mentioned, everyone defines success differently, and for some that is teaching their children and having a nice house.

  4. I’ve always thought that this part of women and leadership was interesting. I think that the “balance” that society pushes for women to obtain is unnecessary because success and balance are defined differently between every person. Thus, what may be considered stressful to one women may be considered comfortable to another.

    It’s difficult to elaborate the multiple facets that are incorporated into the difference between individuals, since every single person is different. Graff discusses how there are ‘ideal’ concepts of what is successful to a woman and leadership, in regards to working and staying home. Again, this generalization inhibits more than progresses women within leadership. What steps can we take to realize the potential that lies within a woman’s choice rather than her societal expectations?

  5. While I do think that it is crucial for children (males and females) to see women in higher positions of leadership in all different fields, it is also important that these women actually want to be leaders. We would not be sending the right message to children if their mothers did not want to become leaders in their careers, and only stepped up to their position because they felt like that they were obligated to do so- whether it be for financial reasons, or because they felt that no one else was capable of doing the job as well as they could, etc. While we want to encourage young girls to someday become leaders in the future, we should want them to be personally motivated and driven to lead others; we would not want them to look at the idea of women in leadership in a negative light because they think it is forced upon women.

    I think that in order to change the way future generations view women in leadership positions, we can start with a simple solution to the problem such as just being mindful of our actions regarding our jobs. If women love being a leader in their field, they should make it clear to their audience (especially to their younger audience) why they love it and reassure them that they were not forced into their current positions. The same goes for those women who don’t enjoy their jobs as much. If we are a little more careful and watch what we say about our jobs, it could make a difference for women leaders in the future. In other words, no matter the significance of the job, we should remember that we are always a leader- inside and outside of the workplace!

  6. I personally think that women who effectively balance high-level jobs and motherhood are setting an excellent example for their daughters. However, it is important that if women do choose to balance both of these difficult tasks that they are passionate about both. The woman I interviewed for my second interview paper demonstrates passion for both her job and her family, and often has a difficult time choosing between them. However, she stated that family always comes first but her job is what pays the bills to have a happy and secure family. Therefore, she must effectively balance both together.

    I think that these women balancing work and family act as great role models for younger generations. They are able to show that motivation and hard work can benefit everyone in the long run. I think that such a drive shows young girls that hard work must be executed every day to thrive. However, like Jessica stated, I think it is also important to watch what we say about this balance around young girls. Yes it is very stress and often overwhelming, but complaining about it or letting the stress get to us will only turn the younger generation off from trying to balance work and home life. Instead, if we turn our troubles into merely working harder to succeed, they will be able to see that they truly can have it all if they work hard enough!

  7. I believe there are two possible outcomes. If a woman has a demanding job, she could turn her daughter off to high level leadership positions, or she could serve as an example that her daughter strives to follow. It will depend on the personality of the daughter. If the daughter is highly independent and is not bothered by spending less time with her mother, she might be inspired to go for a demanding job as well. If the daughter is someone who greatly values time with family, she may be deeply hurt by her mom’s absence. Personally, my mom was at every one of my games and performances throughout my childhood. I knew that I was her priority and it would have hurt me if she had had a job that she put before me. Some people do not mind that and I am not judging mothers who do make their jobs their priority. I’m just saying that it would not have worked for me, personally. For my entire life my mom, my grandmother, and my aunts have always put the kids in the family first. I never had an experience with a family member making their job top priority until my sister got a job at a law firm. She was in it for years before she quit. That made me realize more than anything else how important it is to me to have a job that allows me to make my family my priority.

  8. One thing that struck me that you mentioned was the idea of women having to face obstacles of reentering the workforce if they choose to “opt out” or leave their jobs for a little while. We talked in class and read in the Belkin and Graff articles about how it is more difficult for women to gain positions after they have taken time out of the workforce because they then become less desirable to employers. This then forces some women to start at lower positions then they were before when they choose to reenter the workforce. I think this is really important to think about because I think that many women choose to stay in jobs that aren’t right for them or that they don’t enjoy for this very reason. A lot of it has to do with fear. Many women feel that if they take some time off to concentrate on their family and personal lives, then this will make it much more difficult when they choose to go back. So instead, they choose to work in a job they don’t enjoy, while also having their home lives suffer. To me, this shows how important it is to thoroughly enjoy what you are doing, both at home and at work. I feel that many women must feel like they must pick and choose between what they want to do, such as is illustrated by the picture you posted of the mother having to put her full attention on her work than her son. But, like Tori mentioned in her comment, I feel that if you are going to choose to make these sacrifices, you should do it because it is what you truly want to do, not because you feel society is pushing you to do it. If you aren’t satisfied or committed to both your work and home life, then what is the point in pursuing it? I just don’t want women, and men for that matter, to feel like they have to choose between having a happy work life or a happy home life, while having the other one suffer. You shouldn’t have to be forced to stay in an unhappy job just to be able to take care of your children and you shouldn’t have to give up certain aspects of your home life just to be superwoman at your job. Balance is extremely difficult especially in today’s society, but it all comes down to personal choice of where you believe your top priorities lie.

  9. The balance between work and home life is something that all women seem to struggle with. Like stated previously, success is different for each person who defines it. One persons definition is going to be completely different from another. It is important for everyone to realize this and respect one another. We could get so much more accomplished as a society if we could learn to respect the decisions of those around us.

    The next generation is looking up at us, seeing how women balance their day to day lives between work and home. From what I have seen from my mom, she had a very good grasp on this balancing act. I know I have had a positive role model to look up to, but not every young girl does. I agree with the picture above. A working mother with a stressful job may be setting a completely different example for her daughter if she is always focused on work and not the family.

  10. I think it is important that we acknowledge just how far we have come as women and as a society. We are now able to understand and for the most part accept that people differ on their view of success. For some success is simply having a healthy family. For others, success is all about fulfilling your duties as an employer. But for most women, success is viewed is having a balance between both work and family. As a result of most women believing that having balance is success, sometimes struggle to maintain the two. Although women do struggle being both full time workers and mothers I do not believe that sends off the wrong message to the young generation. I know that from personal experience I watched my mother struggle balancing between working full time and being a mom, but she got through it. Even though at times I watched her struggle, she always explained to me why she was putting herself through that. She told me that she was working so hard because she loved what she did and she has the opportunity to have a job that many women do not have. She also explained that because she loved us so much no matter how tired she was from work, she still wanted to do all she could to make sure we had a good life, better than the one she had as a child. My mom explained to me that it is never about putting one over the other but about using both as one tool for success. So while at times I questioned whether or not I would want to do the same, looking at how my mother worked hard, but also endlessly loved us enough to tell us the reasoning behind her struggles, pushed for me to want to do the same for my children. So I think that in order for women who are trying to balance between both work and family, to be successful in not letting young girls being turned off by such ambition, I think women need to simply talk with their children and explain to them why doing both is important and that it is in fact possible and not as bad as people make it seem. It is hard yes, but ultimately it is worth it. Kids do not need to just see it but they need to hear it.

  11. Personally, I feel that women have a greater choice of what kind of career they choose to take within their personal family. Husband and wife in the current generation are able to find a balance of work and family within each other and not have to feel obligated to stay home. Although this may be true, society and cultural norms treat females who decide to choose the workforce with opposition. In terms of kids, society categorizes females as caregivers to their children and at times find it difficult returning to work after a pregnancy. Within a family, I feel that husband and wife can logically talk about the workplace and find a way to manage the household and finances. Especially due to the economy, sometimes women have to return to support their family. If society didn’t put up walls for females who are married or with kids, then it would be easier to accept the fact that women can make whatever decision they choose when it comes to the balance of family and work.

  12. I think we need to work on defining success as the next generation of women leaders and focus more on creating a more balanced “balance” between family and our professional lives. Otherwise this problem is going to persist into our generation and nothing will be done. I think there needs to be more understanding in the work environment and more support for women who want to be professionals and mothers simultaneously. In addition, and perhaps even more important is the need to begin to change our perceptions of working mothers from discouragement to support. If we, as a culture place shame on women who want to pursue a career and a family, it will only add to the difficulty of balancing the two.

  13. All women are different, some want to focus solely on children and family, some don’t want kids and want to focus on their careers, and others want both a family and career. Women want to be successful in whichever category they fit into. Some women find it hard to balance work and family, honestly it just depends on the career you choose. My mother is a teacher, she balances her success at work and our family perfectly. However I think if my mom were a surgeon that was on call all the time, it would be somewhat difficult to find the balance she has now. Balance depends on the self discipline and organization of the woman. The woman needs to know when to put the work away and be apart of the family during family time.
    I wish that men would value balance between work and home. Not many I know do.

  14. This is a really interesting point and picture. In the interview I did for my second paper, my interviewee was discussing how she believes that if one does not have a healthy work-life balance, then it really impacts the kids as they are growing up. However, in her experiences, rather then her kids shying away from stressful leadership positions, they actually wanted them more. She believes that since her kids were raised with a mom that was completely invested in her work, her kids didn’t really know that there was anything more to parenthood than work. She believes that they thought this was normal, and worries that they will invest more energy in their work than their families because this is the way that they were raised. While this may be true in her circumstance, I don’t believe this happens with all children who grow up with work-oriented parents. Children reach an age where they can make decisions and opinions for themselves, so I believe that there are many women who can take an experience like that, and change it so that they actually understand the importance of being with the family even more. The idea of work-life balance is actually fuzzy to me in general. It is a really personal decision, and I don’t think there is one “right” way to hold this balance. Some women can split up their time 50/50. Some women need more time at home to be fulfilled. Some women need more time at work to be fulfilled. Some men help maintain this balance, some men spend all of their time at their jobs. There are so many different types of people and families that this is a really hard topic to understand. I don’t think we should point fingers or criticize others for choosing a certain way to live their lives. As long as it is a personal choice, and a choice that makes them the most happy, I don’t believe that there is any problem.

  15. I have been thinking a lot about this idea of balance since we discussed it in class, read the two readings on Erin Callan, and I interviewed my woman leader for my paper. The woman I interviewed specifically discussed a lot about balance, for she just started a job as the only female manager at Cheddar’s because the hours she worked at her last job was no conducive with her family.The woman I interviewed felt work was extremely important, and that was why balance was so essential in her life, because her children and fiance were equally as important. For men, I feel that they do not have to consider this balance as much as women have to. Women are constantly assumed to take on the position, while if they have a working wife, they are the ones that would be expected to come home and take care of the kids or sacrifice more for their family. This is obviously a generalization, but it is frustrating that that is the way our society works now. I wonder if our society will ever get to the point where men feel comfortable and it will be seen as normal to be the parent to make the main sacrifices for the children, or even if couples can more closely share the responsibility if they choose to have a family.

  16. Success is individualized, but it is also a growing and ever changing part of our lives. The woman I interviewed talked about how her idea of success started to shift as she got older. When she was just working and not raising a family, her success was based on her work mostly as a career driven woman. Then she had two children and that idea began to change. Their happiness is how she defines success now alongside her work. That is her balance, but it is different for everyone. That difference is especially clear in the generation gaps.

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