A recent announcement about motherhood from Gwyneth Paltrow set off a media frenzy. She made a comment that a working actress has it harder than a 9-5 mom. Needless to say that the 9-5 moms didn’t want to hear anything about how difficult someone could have it who can afford nannies, private planes, and all the other niceties that make life so much easier. You can find the interview here.
Any woman making an absolute statement like this one should read my book Happy Woman Happy World. If there is one thing that I want all of us to agree on it is that it is hard for all women. It doesn’t matter if you want to make partner at the law firm, want to be a stay-at-home mom, be an astronaut, serving our country, a business owner, or an employee. I remember as a single mom, immigrant, and broke business owner I barely made it through. I had it hard without family or a support system. Then I think about a woman soldier on tour for six months at a time… I realized eventually that no matter what end we stand on – it is hard for all of us.
The Women’s Code showed women that the discussion about “why my life is more difficult and demanding than yours” is pointless . Because that is what we were led to believe that there are other women who have it easier than we do. In the book I describe it as the Superhuman Paradox. We think that a woman who has figured one thing out automatically must be good at EVERYTHING else. That is of course not possible.
The question remains why do we keep putting other women down when in reality women are searching for better ways to manage the demands of both, career and motherhood – everywhere we look? The Women’s Code moves the conversation from slamming or belittling other women’s contributions to a search for an answer to much bigger questions: why is there such little support available for women, and what do we need to not feel so overwhelmed? And what can we as a society provide that makes a woman’s double shift easier to manage?
Here is something to think about. We are in a patriarchal society and all of our systems were set up to work for men. The reason is simple. When these systems were set up there were only men who worked. Therefore systems only had to function for men. Fast forward to today. Women college graduates are at an all time record and 140 women will earn a college degree of some sort compared to 100 men.
To me the result that this statistic shows is very clear. Any existing system, on whether Government, or Fortune 500, or private sector, that is not adjusting to the massive influx of women leaders is destined to fail.
Women need better support systems and flexible schedules. We need our own leadership principles that define what an excellent woman leader should posses.
What we don’t need is a woman telling another woman that she has it harder. Rather, let’s find out what we can do to help each other to loose the guilt, and not our sanity while we try to make it work.