Glass Ceiling, Invisible Labyrinth.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
When a woman I know left a good position at a small daily to a very good position at a weekly, a male friend said "Wow. She knows she's making the wrong career move". Maybe. Maybe not. I think it depends on how we define success. I do want to work at a daily, so I understand where he was coming from. But I also understand where she was coming from, and I have a sense that my friend--as a guy--might never understand. Even if she really wanted the new job, what may be confusing for my friend is the twisted career path she's taking. There is no set goal, no one way to get there, and for some that may be confusing. For women, I think, it is often normal.

A woman leading a discussion with a room full of high school graduates headed to prestigious colleges about balancing school and work (the mother of two wonderful kids, she looked around the room and said, I feel like an alcoholic lecturing to an AA meeting) asked the girls to raise their hands if their mothers were on the same career path they had been on when they graduated college. Almost no one raised her hand. (Yes, I was one of those graduates. It was a bunch of years ago now). I am not sure the same would be true for fathers.

This New York Times column sums it up nicely. What do we tell our daughters about going to work. How easy is it to tell them they can do everything? How easy is it to lie?

The column advises this:
"Of course we want to tell them [our children] that they can achieve all they can envision. But we also need to tell them that those visions may change color and scope along the way. Of course we want to tell them that hard work will pave their way. But we must also warn them that sometimes it won’t be enough, and that they will have to choose, because the whole of work and the whole of life rarely fit neatly into every working day."

Maybe it's not an issue of a glass ceiling so much as it's an issue of an almost-invisible labyrinth.

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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

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