Sheryl Sandberg has waded into the debate around why there are not more women at senior corporate levels by suggesting that women need to stop leaning back from careers and lean right in and keep focused on getting to the top from the moment we graduate
And that probably is a good piece of advice if you are one of the few people, male or female, that is going to rise to the absolute top of their career – these people are focused day and night, irrespective of their lifestyle choices on achieving
The thing is that they aren’t like the rest of us. Not every single person wants to be the CEO of a FTSE100 company, not every single person wants to be a jetsetter and the big boss. An awful lot of people want a job that interests and invigorates them but gives them sufficient time and energy to still do other things – career is not the be all and end all for everyone
The trouble is that for women there aren’t a whole lot of visible role models for just being normal – if you want to see some of the 1% of women who have fiercely achieved then yes, there are some role models. Trouble for me is that in general those women have made massive sacrifices that I just don’t want to make. My husband won’t give up his career to back mine (and I’m not sure I’d want him to in any case), I don’t want to live a life where I only see my children occasionally and I do want to be able to go out and have fun and to have time when work just isn’t the main focus of my life
Men do have role models for this – they can look around and see generations of other men who have found a balance and have decided not to go for the top but to find somewhere comfortable a bit below there
Women don’t really have this – it often looks as if the choice is stay at home with your children, find a completely new career that you can work around family life or work full out and flat out – and for me none of those really reflects what I want to be
Partly I blame the media – there’s an awful lot of focus on over-achievers telling the rest of womankind how we should try and be more like them
Why can’t we find more examples of normal women, normal mothers, normal wives?
Why can’t we show more women juggling all the aspects of their lives but without all the household support the superstars get?
Why can’t we show that it is hard but rewarding and that normal can be a whole host of different things?
We need people like you and me to be more visible – we need to stop focus on wonder woman and start celebrating wonderful women