A woman’s role in society has undoubtedly changed over the past few decades; going back generations it is clear to see that women now, more than ever, have higher expectations laid upon them by society.
In my grandmother’s generation, the woman’s role was solely to provide support to their husband, enabling him to go out and achieve his goals. In my mother’s generation, the role continued to revolve around the children and the duties at home, however women began to want to achieve something for themselves.
The women of my generation strive to have it all; the happy family life and perfect career while looking good. This can be a struggle however and we are often hard on ourselves if we can’t achieve all of these. These are the issues that many of my female clients seek to cope with. Going forward, in my daughter’s generation, the pressure is even greater to excel in all areas as there are less restrictions by society and therefore potentially fewer barriers and obstacles.
The modern-day woman therefore faces a dilemma; if we don’t work we feel a loss of self-esteem and confidence; this is something that I have seen in many clients, even if they are hardworking and intelligent. They see themselves as “worthless”, especially after their children have grown up and their husbands have ‘achieved’ their own success.
The role of women in today’s generations and previous generations were defined by society. In this sense, the woman’s role is defined by relationships. On the other hand, women with high-flying careers can also feel this sense of emptiness if they choose a career over children they are then defined by this choice. We don’t need to look any further than the recent descriptions of a candidate who recently ran for the leaderships positions of the Conservative party.
An article in the Telegraph on this subject states that remarks such as these, “reveal how childless women are still viewed with innate suspicion”. This demonstrates the challenge modern women face, as the contemporary women’s role is expected to simultaneously take on different forms: the career-orientated achiever and the diligent housewife and the caring mother.
In my opinion, women should not be defined by society and its idealistic expectations of the perfect woman. This is something I help my clients to discover. Women must establish their own definitions, working out their own values in order to achieve happiness and a balance in the real world.
Can a woman manage both career ambitions alongside a happy family life?
Having recently interviewed Nicky Morgan MP (former cabinet minister for Education and equalities minister), for my upcoming book, I have so much admiration for women who enter politics and have young families. Nicky’s son was only two years old when she was elected an MP. She and her husband have many challenges bringing up a young child and dividing their time between two cities.
It evidently works in Nicky’s and indeed many other families, if both men and women are flexible, open-minded and supportive of each other’s role. It all comes down to being SAVVI: being self-aware and identifying each other’s strengths and passions and taking on roles that utilise these. This may mean both parents are working and paying for childcare and helping to run the house. Personally, I discovered I wanted to teach or coach – to use my strengths – and to have help around the house. The modern day woman must make her own definitions and not feel guilty for using her strengths and passions to strike the right balance.
It’s important that we all work out what makes us happy, what our strengths are and how they can be best used. This is the first thing I do with my clients, who are often both businesswomen and mothers. Women should not succumb to the pressure from society to have to do it all, or to be restricted to do certain things because of gender stereotypes.
“Be Savvi” and work out what makes you happy and get the support and courage to make this happen.