The Focus on Women and Personal Leadership


I’ve been overwhelmed the last few weeks with the emphasis in the media and through random conversations about the focus on women.  Women and their choice to stay at home or not to stay at home, to feed Cheetos for breakfast or fix homemade heart shaped pancakes instead, to take a job that demands more travel or not.  About women and equality from the extremes of equal pay to the need for basic human rights for women. Women having it all or wanting it all, or “leaning in” for it all, or building a nursery onto their office in order to have it all.

All the Fuss

Here’s just a sampling of things that have been brought to my attention in these last few weeks related to women:

Jimmy Carter’s “Losing my Religion for Equality” about how he has made a decision to leave the Southern Baptist Convention because of women’s equality issues.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead   A book recommended to me by a co-worker written by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg.

Working Women Know Your Value an article a friend sent me just after she had finished telling me that she doesn’t charge enough for her side business as well as how she was shocked at how much a friend charged her for baby clothes she had purchased from her.  The article starts off with the dramatics quote I often feel like a high-class prostitute, I just don’t charge like one. Call girls seem to know their black book value, or at least their madams do. But sadly, many professional working women don’t get or demand the compensation they deserve.

Or the Blog Cheetos for Breakfast: A Letter to Young Mothers that my mom posted on my Facebook page a few weeks back.

One thing is for sure, the focus on women is everywhere, and it is often about the choices we make. Can you imagine headlines and blog posts like these above focused on men? “Lean In: MEN, Work and the Will to Lead”? “Working MEN Know Your Value”?  “”Cheetos for Breakfast: A Letter to Young FATHERS.”? Yea right. And there is harsh criticism on either side of every debate about a woman and the choices she makes.   Do we ever analyze a man’s choices to the nth degree?

Surprised by it All

Quite frankly,  I’ve been surprised by it all.  I live in an environment, thanks to many who came before me, where gender isn’t a prominent issue on my mind.  Roles where I grew up, where I call home now and where I work aren’t defined by gender for the most part.  I, and I would guess a lot of us male or female, need to be reminded more about some of the points that Jimmy Carter makes in the above article about how this is not the case in much of the world still today.

But despite the lack of focus on gender roles in my world, when I examine myself I realize that I do seem to have more choices to make, even more than my better half, and I do seem to agonize over these choices both big and small much more than my equal and partner-in-crime husband does.  As a matter of fact, when I mentioned to him considering blogging about this topic to get his opinion, he had none.   It isn’t even on his radar.

So my question is, is women wanting it all what leaves us waffling or second-guessing ourselves on so many choices?  What if we decided having it all isn’t really what we want? Would it leave us better able to be more confident in the decisions we do make and to take on a role of personal leadership for ourselves?

I’ll be taking some time in this blog over the next few weeks to examine some ways that both women (and men) can consider tools for personal leadership in their own lives as a way to guide the roles and focus in which they assume.    I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog to be able to read these posts;

Lesson In Personal Leadership 1:  What’s most important and the role of balance

Lesson in Personal Leadership 2:  Sometimes throwing yourself out of whack is what’s most important

Lesson in Personal Leadership 3:  Know your value

Lesson in Personal Leadership 4:  Be confident in your decisions

Lesson in Personal Leadership 5:  Help others and respect their decisions

Quoted in a link to another article out of one mentioned above, Marina Whitman a professor at The University of Michigan said, “I think this thing about ‘can women have it all?’ or ‘can’t they have it all?’ is kind of a silly argument,” she said. “Yes, you may have it all, but not all at once.”

Learning personal leadership lessons to guide yourself may be the best place to start in realizing what is most important and at what time.


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Mary Ila Ward