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Is Women’s Career Advice Just a Bunch of Bunk?

Meghan Casserly writes a great blog called Girl Friday at Forbes.com.  A recent post highlights the struggles that women have in advancing their careers, especially in light of the specialized advice they receive.  Learnings from the Catalyst study The Myth of the Ideal Worker show that although women engage in activities like mentoring, networking and actually asking for what they want, they still do not receive promotional opportunities on par with their male peers.

It’s actually quite depressing to hear.  It’s like saying I went on a diet, I did more exercise than the other guy, I even took some crazy weight loss pills that made me grow a beard and I’m  STILL 10 pounds overweight and he lost 20 without doing a thing!  Here’s my spin…It’s depressing if you want exactly what the other guy has.

I think that’s where some of us, not all of us, have to make a decision.  Do we really even want to be like the other guys?  In my lifetime I’ve attended enough women’s conferences, either put on my company and highlighting female executives or external networking events with a panel of successful women, to know that sometimes what was paraded on the stage as the “ideal” wasn’t ideal for me.

For me those were the things that were depressing!  I didn’t want to be like the women sitting on the stage.  It just didn’t connect for me.  They had a posse of nannies, personal assistants, drivers for themselves and the kids and stay at home husbands.  They never ate dinner at home.  They told stories of finally getting to go to the ballet recital (first ever after 5 years of daughter’s ballet) and texting through a deal up to the point where the curtain opened.  To me, that’s not really cool.

In my case, I work because I like the income and the creative outlet but there’s never a doubt that if push comes to shove, I’m a mom and wife first.  I think we’d all say that but you may have to come to the place where you’re willing to make some trade-offs.  Just know that there have been days that I’ve chosen my job over my family.  It didn’t feel good and when I searched for my motivation it usually came down to “What would they think of me at work if I didn’t…?”

It stinks to write about this because it comes off making someone wrong (similar to the stay at home mom vs. working mom debate).  My hope is to unite, not divide women so here’s what I’ll say – it’s just not right for me.  I’m not sitting at the dinner table with the kids of these power moms getting their opinion on whether or not all this work is a great idea so I really don’t know the right answer for them.  They may have some magical formula to make it all work and it’s glorious for everyone.  If so, bottle it and sell it to us please.

I’ll leave with this.  Know what YOU really want.  It may not be what the person next to you has.  Determine for you and your family what is best.  Even if it is best for now and it all changes later, you’re still better off than longing for something that isn’t really you.  Know that you’ll feel guilty either way – you’re not putting in enough time at home or at the office, etc.  To gauge where you need to adjust, check in with those who matter the most to you and make the changes.  Not everyone will be happy but at least you’ll be closer to putting your time, energy and resources to your priorities.

Read Meghan’s article here and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/01/10/amazing-failure-womens-career-advice-asking-too-much/2/


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