Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance; is there such a thing for women?
If you are a career woman raising a family, you might relate to the following:

• Linda is feeling guilty for leaving to go to work when her kids are still in bed.
• Laura arranged to attend an event at her son’s school, but now the boss moved the staff meeting, and she cannot attend.
• Sabrina’s daughter is running a fever. She is arranging a doctor’s appointment in the middle of month-end closing.

Years back, I remember facing all of the above. It was also the long commute times, the international trips for days at a time, the house chores, meals preparation, homework and more… I remember there was so much to deal with, and it felt overwhelming. As a career coach, I understand when I hear about these challenges. I know how it feels. I have been there!

I recently came across an article written by two researchers from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. Deborah A. O’Neil and Diana Bilimoria of the University’s Department of Organizational Behavior studied what makes a woman’s career different. One of their findings is that women are more involved in raising a family with a higher level of responsibility attached to this life context, compared to men.

“While pursuing career development, women continue performing care giving to their children and dependents. The level of pressure and support they receive in this area may significantly impact their career path and growth.”1

Work-life balance remains one of the challenges women face while trying to advance in their careers. This is one of the factors why women’s career paths are not always linear, such as in the case of men. Women experience more exits and entries in the workplace as they leave to raise children.

The ability to reach career goals may be influenced by the level of logistical support available from spouses, family and friends, as well as inner strength.

You will be more focused at work if you know you have access to reliable childcare, through spousal support, extended family and even friends to help out. You will become more effective if you are resourceful, assertive, resilient and positive.

Knowing that support and strength are both important factors, how can you increase commitment from others around you to help out more? How can you develop more resilience and inner strength to face your challenges with optimism and faith?

Utilizing these four strategies can yield great benefits and make a positive impact:
1. Do not hesitate to ask for help; surround yourself with a good support system.
2. Seek structure and support from a qualified career coach.
3. Seek a mentor at work , preferably a successful female who can serve you as a positive role model and who can advise you.
4. Develop inner strength by becoming mindful of your self-worth.

Additionally, if you are in a position to choose your employer, favor organizations that embrace women’s career advancement. There are firms out there with family-friendly policies that care about attracting and retaining female talent. I suggest the following articles that have useful information regarding this topic:

It is important to remember you are not alone in facing the responsibilities of raising a family while working. You can reach your career goals by knowing what you want, performing well and managing your challenges with a positive outlook. While women’s careers are distinctive, by being proactive, it is possible to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

1 O’Neil, Deborah A. and Bilimoria, Diana. 2005. “Women’s Career Development Phases: Idealism, Endurance and Reinvention”. Journal of Career Development International. Vol.10, No. 3, 2005, 
pp. 168-189.

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