Friday, November 19, 2004

Work, Family, Personal Life: Why Not All Three

We have lost the capacity to fall in love, for many reasons, but above all else because we take ourselves so incredibly seriously.
(Rabbi Shmuley Boteach)

Before you think am into some mushy/preachy kind of stuff, this is a quote from a article covered in HBS- Working Knowledge series. The quote was made at Möbius Leadership forum session titled "Walking the Tight Wire: Family and Career, Finding the Balance".

There were three spaekers at the conference, Myra Hart (HBS professor), Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a popular speaker and author and Scott W. Ventrella, a management consultant & an adjunct professor at Fordham University's Graduate School of Business.

Two take aways from the whole story....

a) Work & Family life balance is being covered in business schools and not left to self help books and such similar mentors. Also means they have more competition at their hands now :)

b) I hope I am not sterotyping but, what struck me was, the proff's(a female herself) research work was specifically done with female graduates of HBS. According to her about 40 percent of HBS female grads take time out from the workforce at some point in their careers to either raise families or pursue other options such as working at nonprofit organizations etc. If this is the case in Harvard wonder would be the percentage for females who attain higher education in India.

Wonder why men don't have to do that. Though work life balance as an issue started with men, it indeed has bigger connotataions for the fair sex. In case of men it is more about giving attention to family while in case of women, the issue somehow boils down to her having to make a choice between the two.

Why is work life balance not an issue for the males? Two possible expalnations can arise. either u expect & appprove of males neglicting one of the two. ( No need to specify which one would not get their attention). Or is they we force males to put a strong face, not come out with rheir problems and not ask for help in trying to live a better life because its not manly enough? I guess either of the explanations is not the kind what we would rationally approve and yet we continue with age old traditions.....

Interestly if this was not all , the Rabi had another observation about equality of sexes. According to him,

women have fought for equality and in so doing have lost their souls. They have responded to the model of the classical hero...Equality for women was a step back for women.. real greatness is where you don't have to prove yourself constantly

(This reminds of a little tiff I had with a team mate this evening over some project work. My rather weak attempt at delegating a difficult part to him on the pretext that he is a guy, was met with 'try to a behave as equals' retort)

Anyways....maybe i'll go with the proff's opinion....

I think you have to look at how you value your choices on multiple dimensions.... People shouldn't just choose work based on prestige or salary.....If you're satisfied with the kind of work you're doing and the place where you're doing it, you will be successful...... And so you will open up doors you can't even imagine. But if you let others define what success is…then it's easy to lose sight of yourself.

Let the woman of today define her success. Maybe this is the only way she can lead a balanced life.

8 comments:

perspective said...

Hey Sonia that's an interesting piece and yet something we've discussed for years as a community. I do agree that women dont need to shout and scream to prove they are equal. By doing so they surely have lost something. Work is related to only how much you enjoy or love doing it. If you do you will do it and do it well. I believe that is success... getting what you want the way you want it. If that measures in a Car and a House and children... so be it... if it measures in a life in the Villages helping those who never found help like the Urbans, then that is it!

Govar said...

Coming to think of it, Life, post B-scchool, is at the cost of a lot of personal life. While we can artificially make it a point to be natural, some cost has to be incurred.
http://www.businessworldindia.com/mar2204/invogue02.asp speaks abt it.

Govar. IIM-I 2006.

Anonymous said...

Hmm..interesting...but why women alone, everyone has to define what is success for them to have a touchstone to find the worth of one's sacrifices.....

suhas

Daniel said...

I've opened an account just to respond to your post. I think women in the proffessional work force should not have to decide whether thier career supplements thier family or if thier family supplements thier chosen proffesion. I've considered the Rabbis words. After some deliberation I think you might appreciate my support as a member of the opposite sex. I don't think men feel excused from thier families when it weighs agianst thier careers, I do feel men are not conscious of thier genuine responsibities and awards they can offer thier families or social charities. While many other professionals in thier own league afford thier own success by complementing thier family life with thier careers, I would venture to argue many women who have pioneered through the proffesional status quo's have decided over time to persue family engagements and social relief programs over thier time-honored proffesions out of sheer personal desire; just as well I'm sure many men have risen to the occassion of charity and child rearing but, your professors' study clearly proves women are leaders in charity and family cares. In the end I would feel proud to associate women with charity and healthy families becuase in many ways women were there first(drawing us back to what i belive the Rabbi's point infered) and men have a lot to live up to. My own children will be nutured into equality and broader states of mind that will hopefully not depreciate any distinctions of diversity. I hope I didn't offend anyone nor misrepresent my own view.

Sonia Chawla said...

Hi Daniel.
I don't know where else to reply to your comment so am posting a reply here.

No you got your point clearly across and I really appreciate. Maybe who knows our next generation will indeed grow up without such prejudices.

Regards
Sonia

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