Dear Aunty B,
I am really ambitious and was brought up, like all the women in my generation, believing I can do anything.
But I look at the people on the rung ahead of me and the men go off and have a baby and return a week later while the women disappear for years. As a result, we only have one senior woman in our leadership team, which is really disappointing, although at least she has three children.
Anyway, the female graduates from my year have always told each other we will make the difference and get to the top. And then we get Anne-Marie Slaughter and The Atlantic article and so many of us are asking what it’s going to be like, with some of my most forthright friends now discussing options they wouldn’t have even considered before.
How do I convince them and myself that we can have a career and family and not all go nuts?
Look, just because you and the rest of the female race share the same bits, doesn’t mean you need to share everything else. As your friends left school, they all went in different directions, and this continues to happen through your life so stop looking at choice as a feminist issue.
And who gives a toss about what any one woman does. It was very generous of Anne-Marie to share her story with us – but it doesn’t mean it’s your story.
In fact, I am always left perplexed at the way some women jump on an issue and instead of sending a nod to the woman as a fellow traveller acknowledging her own unique experience, we get ourselves in some kind of collective lather and think her experience is our own.
Anne-Marie a highly ambitious and intelligent woman who chose an extremely difficult life that most men would not choose. She worked hours that were injurious to her health and was away from her family during the week. That had nothing to do with being a woman. That had to do with making a choice that would have stressed out anyone on the planet. So it didn’t work and she had the sense to change direction. Good for her. But that has nothing to do with you.
Now lots of women have great careers and families, although I can’t promise we are not nuts. The point is they may not be in your group of graduates, friends or colleagues. You will set your own agenda and set the course that’s right for you.
But I will tell you something that will help. Sign up for Women’s Agenda, our sister publication launching in early August. You will find lots of support there for your professional journey.
Your Aunty B
P.S. Aunty B will be on break for a couple of weeks, kicking back and sipping margaritas.
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