Work-Life Balance in a Woman's World

angelica tara By angelica tara, 15th Dec 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Jobs>Careers

Career is as important as personal life. Can one survive without sacrificing one's job or one's home? We all know that the answer lies in striking a balance. But before that we need to develop our skills at work. Qualifications, talent and attitude - the three basic qualities that can help us sail through ...

Women and Career

Woman.
An enigma. A mystique. Epitome of beauty.
Stressed … Overworked … Burdened …

Think again. It may come as a rude shock but it’s more than a gender issue. Women are strong enough to overcome the toughest of challenges. Yet, when it comes to their own lot, they tend to be unsure.

This fact was revealed in a survey by The McKinsey & Co where they said that a lower percentage of women are in the workforce in Asia than their western counterparts.
Women accounted for only six per cent of seats on corporate boards whereas Europe boasted of 17 per cent and the US at a comfortable 15 per cent.

So what could be the reason given that, in general, Asian women are perceived to be talented and hardworking? One of the main reasons could be the expectation from a woman to be a home-maker. The society and families look upon a woman primarily as a home-maker and not a corporate belle. In fact, a career-oriented woman could be facing harsh criticism at home and the work area for ‘sacrificing home for a job’.

The influence of changing perceptions of women on their independence can be illustrated by the Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg’s jaw-dropping statement, “"I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I'm home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I've been doing that since I had kids”. Yes. She said that in a video posted on makers.com. Far from chewing her words, she went on to say proudly, "I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it's not until the last year, two years that I'm brave enough to talk about it publicly.” Attagirl!

Pete Cashmore, the founder and CEO of Mashable, supported Sandberg’s stand when he opined that "the measure of our work is in our productivity, not the number of hours we put in". How sweet, you’re thinking; so am I.

And now for reality bytes. Working after a kid means financial problems, family pressure, overworked and underpaid, no support from colleagues and a nagging self-doubt that you are lagging behind. If you’ve upticked most of these then you are definitely Asian. Unlike the Western women for whom nothing changes personally or professionally. Of course, this is just a perception. There are Asian women who are happy working in offices or schools and there are Western women who long to be home to cuddle their babies. But we’re just talking in general here.

In such a scenario, what Sandberg has done is to flash a big beam of Wow factor for all working and non-working women. We can leave early and rush back home in time for spending quality time with our family. And why not? The case in favour is leaving early for home is just a tad awkward – it’s not incompetent. But the reality is that even if you manage to pull off flexible hours, chances are you’ll be underpaid, overlooked for promotions, constantly judged by colleagues and labeled casual worker.

There are so many people who vouch for the work-life balance. We all know it is so important. Take, for instance, Chetan Bhagat (Indian author), who said in a talk to students, “Don’t just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. It’s OK – bunk a few classes, take leave from work … we are people, not programmed devices.”

The debate should actually be whether working longer hours in the office means more commitment or inability to manage time. It’s not a badge of honour to boast about how little time you spend with your family. And this is very important for all women at some point of time in their lives since they are easily stereotyped as showpieces. There will come a time for all women when work and home pulls in different directions. This applies to the handful of men as well who are sincere. The rest, men and women, may please excuse.

“A woman’s work is never done”. So goes a proverb. It’s heart rending to watch a woman trying to be a Supermom. Give her a break guys. Cooking, cleaning, nanny or day care centre, parent-teacher meetings at school, family get-togethers, family problems, personal issues … the list never really ends. You get the picture.

If you want to balance work and life then you have to brush up your skills, both at home and work. I am taking the liberty of using a part of quotes of Mr. Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, to my advantage. He said that "Skills have become the global currency of the 21st century.” So true. I take it in a more personal sense of the words.

I came across a page on OECD which said that the OECD's analysts warn: "The demographic transition – to fewer babies and longer lives – took a century in Europe and North America. In Asia, this transition will often occur in a single generation.”

Let’s not start a revolution. Let’s just start a new beginning. Everyone is fighting their own private battles. I am more partial to women but I feel women have to fight double hard. So let’s just think about the person trapped in the stereotype in our workplace and at home. Let’s all start speaking up or at least think about it. We’ll find a way.

Tags

Productivity, Skills, Stereotype, Supermom, Women, Work-Life Balance, Workforce

Meet the author

author avatar angelica tara
I am the mamma of a beautiful daughter and a copywriter in an ad agency interested in writing on things that are me

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Comments

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
15th Dec 2012 (#)

I am a man and mostly left office after regular hours. Once you make it a habit others will get the hint. Some earned more, but had to spend more too and that became their habit. It boils down to what we want in life - for me work, family balance. You have to give up something to get something. We can aspire for much but not at the same time. I have prioritized to my satisfaction. Agreed, man is less useful at home but I don't generalize! Thanks for the share, Angelica - siva

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