I have been asked to write a blog about women and careers. I have a huge advantage here as I am a woman who has a career – well, I own a business. I am sure that still counts.
In many ways this is an exciting time to be a working woman, and yet it is hard to think of another point in modern times when it has been more challenging.
Why do I say that?
Well, for a start, guess who is doing most of the home schooling for their children while holding down a career during lock down?
In July, The Guardian quoted some new research released by the University College London (UCL). It found that ‘women spent more than twice as much time as men on their children’s home schooling and development during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. Also, they “were considerably more likely” to have given up working than fathers with children of the same age.
Anecdotally In my own world of financial services, it is clear to me that women with children were more likely to be furloughed than a man in a similar role. Some may have welcomed this; however, I have a queasy feeling about it. I am concerned that in some households, Covid 19 has taken us back to being a 1950’s style nuclear family.
My response to all women who find themselves in this situation is to take heart. A book by Avivah Wittenberg- Cox called the ‘4 Phases of Women’s Careers’ suggests that your time will come. How we experience our careers can differ depending on our age. In simple terms:
- Your 20s stands for ambition: A decade of learning, exploring, growth, independence, and no dependents
- Your 30s reflects culture shock: Where potential and parenting crash into today’s corporate cultures and systems
- Your 40s can include Re-acceleration: Refocusing on career priorities on the foundations built
- 50+ and beyond are the years of self-actualisation: When empty nesters discover (often to their surprise) their peak career decades.
I like the theory that this book espouses as it closely matches my own personal experience. I vividly recall the ‘culture shock years’. Raising two children while I held down a senior management position. I loved the job; I also remember the exhaustion.
I completed my first big career pivot in my forties when I moved away from management into the learning and development field. And in my 50’s I have fulfilled a lifetime dream to become a business owner; I am now, at last, the captain of my fate.
Which of these phases best matches where you think your career is now? Wherever you are, enjoy it. The best is yet to come.