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Can women ‘have it all,’ ie motherhood and a career?

Work and familyAt the Byron Bay Writers Festival last weekend I attended a session at which Cheryl Kernot (ex leaders of the Democrats) talked about how hard it was having to commute regularly to Canberra as a Federal politician whilst raising her daughter, and Anne Summers (women’s advisor to Bob Hawke and Paul Keating) said she chose not to have children because she reckoned she couldn’t have been a good mum and fulfilled her career ambitions.

Anne and Cheryl are now in their 60s so ‘praps things have improved for women I thought to myself.  But then my mind went back to the piece I wrote in the current Value Adding newsletter about the McKinsey Centred Leadership program for their emerging leaders, especially their younger women.  The article about the program suggested that “women more often opt out (of corporate life) because they carry the double burden of motherhood”.

This suggests it’s still tough for women who  want to ‘have it all’ in terms of a successful career and being the kind of mum they want to be.  Sure there is now parental leave embedded in policy and practice.  Sure there are more flexible working hours that makes the juggling act of career and parenting more do-able than in Cheryl’s, Anne’s and my day. But both these women declared, and I agree that, until organisations are led by more women and the kind of men who truly embrace the value of work places that are genuinely family friendly, it will continue to be tough for women to ‘have it all’.

And, just for the record, we AnD coaches support quite a number of executive and high potential women to be the best they can be at work and at home through our Leadership Coaching and Vision Coaching.

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