Posted by: abbey | January 19, 2016

Mom or Boss?

After searching my favorite site (ted.com) for inspiration for this post, I found an interesting set of videos. The first was a response dialogue between Sheryl Sandberg, COO for Facebook, and the woman that inspired her to give her first Ted talk (First ted talk was called “Why we have too few women leaders” and the response video was called “So we leaned in… Now what?”).

Sheryl shared in 2010 about a little bit about her struggle to balance her home life and her job, and how women are actually frequently leaving the Fortune 500 world because of the culture of the job, and the unrealistic demands of the jobs that lead to late nights, and working weekends. This was also discussed in the Eagly and Carli reading. Some women that choose to have a family and value time with their children are almost being driven out of the top leadership positions. And who can blame them? Because of the demands of the job, it is near impossible for women to accept both roles, as the boss of the company and the main child caregiver for the family. While it would be nice to not have to make a choice between boss or mom, and just have the option to be a Boss Mom, that is not always an easy option. Sheryl is encouraging women to stay in the work force, but at the same times, she acknowledged the guilt she sometimes feels when her child clings to her leg and says, “Mommy please don’t go”. She also admitted that staying in the workplace, with long hours, extra commitments, and possible relocations, is not ideal for all women. Some women value their family and time with children more than the top leadership positions, and that is not wrong, but neither is putting having a family on hold so you can advance to the top.

But the question is how do we balance this? How do we permeate the upper levels positions with a force of educated women that are ready to change the statistics, when so many of those women want to eventually start a family and have kids? Do these women still have a role in the social movement for gender equality in the workplace, even if their end goal is not to get to the top? I also think that these women are incredibly controversial for our culture. For some, they may represent “weak” women, ones that fall into the stereotype and further perpetuate the negative image of the working mother that some many people have. But I believe that if we negatively label these women, and judge them for purposefully turning down leadership positions to spend time with family, we are no better than others that have limited the advancement of women in the first place. After discussing what it means to be a feminist at the end of class, I realize some much of it is about ensuring that all women have equal opportunities as men, but it is also about allowing them to then make their own choice that is best for them with all the opportunities available.

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Responses

  1. I worked in a male-dominated field as an engineering intern this summer. I was given good advice by many people I worked with (all of whom were male) on how to balance work and home life. Their advice to me was to pursue my dream career but to always leave time for family and friends. When I asked them how they balanced work and home life they all said they left work no later than 5:45 and made sure to eat breakfast with their families in the morning. They also said to never work on weekends unless there was no other way to finish a project.


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