I was raised by a single father. He was and still is my hero. I was raised in a happy, positive world where girls had opportunities. It was not just my father. Men have been my strongest supporters and advocates for as long as I can remember: my father, stepfather, big brother, husband, and many supportive male friends have loved me, listened to me, encouraged me, helped me, and supported me unwaveringly. Yes, I have grown to be a passionate champion for the advancement of women in leadership, but it’s not in the context of gender inequality.
I acknowledge that gender biases exists, but my experience and work is proof that it doesn’t need to be an impediment. I believe the conversation about advanc- ing women into positions of leadership should be had within the company of men. This belief has been strengthened by female mentors and inspiring leaders who have taught me, among many things, to focus on results. I believe women and men together need to help the professional advancement of women. My life’s work has evolved into many interests that not only includes coaching and developing lead- ers, but also educating women about our own contributions in our struggles for advancement.
I have struggled in the pursuit of work/life balance. I have found myself apologizing to my family for loving my work and to my colleagues for needing to manage my time creatively in order to have time for my family. We women need to stop apologizing and lose our ambivalence. We need to believe in our skills, wants, and how to ask for them. I have learned that exposing my vulnerability as a woman leader is what gives other women permission to be imperfect too. There is no greater way I can honor my father’s belief in me than by offering my daughters and the men and women with whom I work an example of leading inclusively and imperfectly.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Know your strengths, know your desires, know how to negotiate and ask for what you need, and be comfortable with agility. Become comfortable being uncomfortable: By making definite choices, you are choosing not to do something else. It’s acceptable if others are disappointed occasionally. Be gentle with yourself.