I thought I’d enter the ‘can women have it all?’ debate, because so many women trip over this one.
What many career women mean when they ask this question is: ‘how can I have it all, right now?’ And what they’re actually asking is ‘how can I continue to progress my career and have a family?’
It is possible to have a career and a family. It is about choices and priorities and the most useful question to ask oneself is: ‘What is most important to me right now?’
The answer needs to be considered in the context that
- women’s life spans are typically 85 – 90 years;
- an aging workforce requires women and men to work longer and
- it’s highly likely that we can have a fulfilling career and a family in the time that we have.
If a career is the most important thing right now, and the body clock continues to tick unrelentingly towards 35, then the options seem to be:
- Decide if you really want a family or whether it’s not that important. Do you really want kids? Many women choose not to because they’ve decided that their lives are full enough. If you do want a family,
- Get started! Find a nanny, supportive in-laws or alternative child care – many women do.
- If you want kids but you don’t have alternate child care, or want to spend time with them yourself, consider the possibility that your career may slow down, because you decide to take time out, but there is still plenty of time to advance.
Organisations need to get better at supporting women to work flexibly – and many are recognising that to lose talented women just because they work part time is not good for business. A growing number will promote part time women. If yours doesn’t then perhaps it’s time to lobby, or move?
Ultimately, though, it still requires women to choose. This means that we need to get better at recognising and claiming the personal power and authority we too often give away.
It’s not good enough to lament about our predicament – whatever it is. It is up to us to decide what is most important right now, then act.
We have the power of choice, it’s time we claimed that power.