Newsweek ran a piece titled Leading the Way to focus on women who will, supposedly, lead in the 21st century. The list includes a bunch of women who either didn’t adjust their careers for kids or have jobs that are incompatible with family. Here are some examples:
Sarah Chang: “I travel all year long. And every week is a new city.”
Renee Reijo Pera: “At 47, I am going to become a mother soon.”
Marissa Mayer: “Google is a very comfortable environment for me because…a great late-night conversation really inspires me.”
The women of Newsweek are not the heroes of my generation. On the whole, my generation is not interested in this sort of achievement. Not even the men.
Wharton just published a study titled, Plateauing, Redefining Success at Work. The study finds that “rather than subscribing to the onward and upward motto, men and women in middle management are more interested in plateauing, unhooking from the pressure to follow and uphill path that someone else has set. (Thanks, Wendy)
These women in Newsweek have given up everything for their careers. This is not what my generation views as success. This is what baby boomers view as success.
Newsweek does not reference to the fact that Gen Xers typically put family before career, and there is no acknowledgment that fertility takes a nose-dive at age 35. In fact, this article about women who have careers that leave no room for families is paired with photos of women with twins and triplets: As if IVF works all the time. Which it doesn’t.
Everyone worries about the media using women who are too thin as role models. I worry about the media using women who give up everything for their job as role models. Both are outdated and serve to limit women in senseless ways.