Last week, I spoke on a panel for Step Up Women’s Network on the Future of Women and the Economy. As an employer and business owner, it is easy for me to get complacent about the hurdles women face at work. But, the topic is especially important to me as a mother of two daughters.
Over the past fifty years, women have made huge strides at work, but the data at the highest levels in business still looks bleak. Women are still the primary managers of their homes in terms of childcare and housekeeping. And, I know from personal experience that managing all of that and a career is nearly impossible. Which is why I have no problem admitting that I am, at most, the co-manager at home. I literally could not run my business and manage my clients if I could not rely on my husband at home. That is why I hope that the audience last week caught it when I said that, to achieve more at work, women need to start expecting more of their co-parent at home.
Too many of my friends who are moms feel like they need to be in charge of breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath time and bed time not to mention grocery shopping, clothes shopping, cleaning, carpooling, scheduling and all of the other responsibilities that come with being a parent. I know that there are superwomen out there who can get all that done and still run an international empire, but that can’t be the standard against which we measure ourselves. If it is, I might as well crawl back into bed and hide.
Personally, I’m a below average cook, a horrible housekeeper and I always feel behind at home. At the same time, I love my daughters, I love my job, and I desperately want to be an awesome mom, amazing boss, and a badass lawyer. I work hard at all three of those things, but I never feel like it’s enough. Because, even with having a true partner at home (who does most of the cooking, much of the cleaning, is an awesome dad and has a demanding job as an executive), it still feels like I’m failing when bath time gets skipped, dishes get left in the sink, the beds go unmade, and any number of other things that should be done get forgotten.
My husband feels none of the guilt or failure. He rightly believes that we both love our daughters and work hard for them at home and at work. We are teaching our daughters that work is a rewarding activity that we both enjoy. At the same time, people “oooh” and “ahhh” over the fact that he has equal responsibility at home. Men are lauded for doing half the things women are expected to regularly complete. I know that I need to let go of the guilt, but the expectation needs to change too.
So, my hope for the future of women in the economy is that we can get to a place where men and women are equally expected to be involved in parenting and housekeeping, regardless of whether a woman wants a career.