As I write this, I think of my younger self, in the late 1990s, with only a few years of working experience. (Yes, that was ages ago and I am giving my age away!). I can vividly recall my father – who was my greatest role model – telling me that I didn’t need to become “hardened” as a woman in business to “make it”.
When I looked “up the ranks” (ironically a phrase that I detest but which was a pertinent reality in my early career), in the various organisations that I was part of, for the first 15 years of my career, the women in senior leadership were few, relative to their male counterparts. They were also mostly in fact “pretty hardened”, ambitious-at-all-costs and fiercely driven. Many of them made their jobs their “whole life”.
Thankfully I had my dad whispering in my ear on how important it was not to “lose (feminine) self” in the quest for career success or model success in a predominantly male persona (which I think at that time, many women assumed was the only route).
Admittedly there were times, when I have/did put my roles of “being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend” on hold and de-prioritised these in favour of work, work, work. Perhaps the subliminal narrative inside my head was that in a business context, feminine roles and qualities were in fact a handicap or sign of weakness.
Fast forward a couple of decades to where I find myself now, in the wonderful world of education and as part of the Nova Pioneer family. I truly never even think of my gender in my workplace context – I don’t think twice about being a female. How grateful I am to think that gender is just an irrelevant demographic, right now in my work life. I don’t feel embarrassed about needing to “rush off and be a mom to my own kids” during a working day or in fact anything else that comes with the territory of my role as mother, wife, sister and daughter. These roles are equally respected and appreciated by the teammates that I work with. How very grateful I am for that, when things felt quite the contrary some decades back for “women in business”.