Unstated Career Barriers for Women
Working with women of all ages and backgrounds, and my own personal experiences as a mother, professional, and wife, there are multiple barriers that we have that many of the opposite sex simply do not understand. If you have ever felt drained, lost, stressed, unmotivated, and conflicted, it is only natural as we balance the multiple facets of our lives.
According to the book, Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about how Women Become Leaders (a fitting book for UnMaze.Me!), they found that despite increased involvement by men, women are currently responsible for the bulk of the domestic work. We are often tasked with making appointments, caring for family members, arranging children’s activities, preparing for celebrations for family events, and the basic “core” tasks for cooking and cleaning. For every, 1 hour of work a man does around the home, a woman spends 1.7 hours. Married women care a larger load; doing 2.1 hours of household and child care work to a man’s 1 hour. Not only that, but women today spend more one-on-one, quality time with their children than earlier generations. A cultural change of mom’s doing it all is definitely prevalent. Example- peruse Pinterest- the impossible organic, gluten-free designer cupcakes for your child's birthday?!? Not only do we compete in the workforce, but we often compete with one another and with ourselves (continual self-doubt and guilt that we are not doing enough!).
This translates into a woman’s leisure time being significantly decreased. Having children under 6 reduces leisure time by an hour a day and so does marriage; however, a man’s leisure time is not affected by children or marriage. This equivocates to men having 212 hours more a year for leisure, or 5 40 week work days, then women! What would you do with 5 extra weeks of leisure time?
Saying all that, these are all things that we choose to have in life, and while stressful, can bring us great joy. What women need to know are a few things in order to create the work-life balance that is so important.
1. Know what type of work environment works best for you. Women have been found to enjoy jobs that provide opportunities to work with people and help others. They also want a feeling of accomplishment and intrinsic stimulation and intellectual challenge.
2. Create a list of your daily questions. With time being limited and being pulled in multiple directions, it is best to develop a set of questions or a little checklist that you can use to judge if that new project or event should be tackled. Rank them. Questions like:
a. Is this a stressor?
b. Does this bring me joy?
c. How will this affect my family or others I care about?
d. Is this a time sucker (meaning you give a little bit, but it sucks you into more time than you thought)?
e. Does this advance my personal and professional goals?
3. Build a network of women warriors. I believe in “It takes a village”. The key is to grow relationships with other women to help manage your life. This could be sharing swim lesson duties, talking over coffee about your career goals, and a Facebook group of classroom moms (I use this often!!).
4. Self-acceptance- Realize there are limitations. Cut yourself some slack and realize there are only so many hours to a day. While there are some unavoidable tasks, prioritize what is truly important (see #2). Create daily lists in ranking order of importance. Check things off as you go. If it's still important, put it on your list for the next day. If it's not, and there are ways to do it quicker or not at all, do so. Be sure to schedule in some of that leisure time! Read a book, drink a glass of wine, socialize with friends, but putting "you" time on your schedule forces you to take a breath and enjoy what is "scheduled"!