We Need to Celebrate Our Work-Life
Balance is an issue that impacts people from new college hires to CEOs, and anyone with high ambitions will continually grapple with it. I believe the struggle for work/life balance is a key contributor to the low retention rate of women in technology. In the semiconductor industry, for every woman engineer, there are ten men. Despite rapid cultural changes that have resulted in men are becoming more engaged in family duties, there is still the pressure and expectation for women to take the lead in raising children.
Working for a global company makes this even more difficult. (Coincidentally, I am writing this from a plane as I fly to Shanghai.) I lead teams around the world and in a 24-hour day there is not one hour that someone on my team isn’t awake and working. No matter how late my meetings run or how empty my inbox is when I go to sleep, I wake to a pile of new emails.
Having the ability to connect to work from anywhere, and at any time, is both a blessing and a curse. It allows women more possibilities but also creates more expectations. When I first started working, there was no way to dial in to meetings from home, cell phones were rare, and people generally left their work at the office at the end of the day. This meant that, when I decided to step back a bit from my career after I had children, it was a true disconnect.
That slowdown in work engagement did cause me to miss some career opportunities, but I would not have chosen to give up that amazing time I had with my boys. Today, working mothers see more options when it comes to work/life balance, but women who select them are seen as being less committed to their careers. Given the difficulty technology companies have in retaining women, we need to celebrate their choices, not merely allow them. I am an advocate within AMD for allowing women that time, explaining to my peers why it is so important, and telling women that I made a similar choice myself. I know that having both the choice and the support from my family, peers, and management when I was a young mom, kept me in my job. I want other women to get this same opportunity.