I’ve started to write this post, waiting for the plane, then I’ve dropped it and found myself again in the same place, waiting for another plane. But this time, after a conversation with my colleague about what are the roles of men and women in the family. His view is that woman’s role is to care about the family comfort, well being, man’s role – to make his family feel safe. He also said that now we were all living in some mess, changing the roles and our nature. So, I got back to my writing, that was very relevant at that moment. This conversation made me remember constant observation – we often fall into extremes, when we think about career on gender basis. These extremes are: when a woman wants to focus on her career, she loses her femininity, or when a man does not want to chase career that guarantees good income it is perceived as not being masculine.
So, this time I just want to share some thoughts about most common extremes that I hear, talking to women about their careers.
One of a kind is that you either seek for “high level”, “significant” career or you don’t do it at all. Nowadays there is a lot of focus on women leadership, which I believe is very important, but I see that some people read this as a message either that kind of career or no career at all. Usually women’s careers are paused because of family issues – mainly child care, which for me personally was a hard step to do, but at the same time, I believed it was the right thing to do. Being around other women, who were having career break connected to parental leave, I started noticing a pattern of making this break longer, assuming that there’s no way to make “big career”, when you have take care of children and when your partner is focusing on his career. So, if there’s no possibility for ambitious career, I won’t do and don’t need any career at all. That of course might be true. If we talk about “big career”.
But if we stop having an assumption that we should be always hyper ambitious in professional field? If we can allow ourselves to focus on things that fit us right at particular point during child care period? If we start being occupied to a proper extent and maybe later on it might lead to some “big careers” and more women leaders? Or more women whose families are not dependent only on their partner’s income. If you do not try little things, what would lead us to big ones? Because if you don’t even try, how can you become someone?
Another extreme that draws my attention having career talks is that there are jobs that are feminine and there are those that are not. There are a lot of women, who have gained skills and knowledge in some area and after being for a long time in one field, eventually want to make some career change. This is definitely not an easy thing and it creates tensions, trying to find out what to do. Watching this, I have an idea that in such uncertain moments our deepest assumptions come into force. Once I was listening to a woman, who was an accountant and willing to change her career. She said, she would like to focus on some kind of self development workshops particularly for women. She also mentioned that she has a bit of programming skills, but would not move to this kind of job, because it won’t be feminine. Of course it’s possible to re-skill yourself, but the motive, why the person wants to do this was interesting to me. As if she was not looking into her skills, but rather focusing on some internal assumptions. Here I recognize an extreme, where professions fall either on feminine or masculine part and in such a way might limit our career choices.
These are just two examples of the situations, where focusing to different extremes, we might push ourselves to the situations where we not necessarily want to be. Thinking about career choices it is good to remember that life goes not in some strictly defined parts, like feminine or masculine professions, significant or no careers at all. Rather it goes in some continuum between the extremes, which allows to put all our traits, abilities in such a way that is most suitable for us.