Driving home from Laramie, Wyoming last night after a Wyoming Cowgirls game (where they dominated 98-37 - a whole topic unto its own), I thought about leadership, women, and topics I could research for my dissertation to get people thinking in a new light. Why am I not a leader today? I had a couple of opportunities in the past three years, and I've turned both down because it wasn't right for my life, for my family's life. In our company, you have limited chances to rise to the top. If you aren't willing to move your family 2,000 miles away in the blink of an eye, you aren't taken seriously. I took an interim HR manager job in Charlotte, North Carolina, for two months to cover a surgery a couple of years ago. I excelled. I received rave reviews, and three years later, I still talk to the wonderful people I worked with. I was asked to stay, and it wasn't the right time, especially for my husband, who had just started his job with the same company two months prior. Then this fall, I had the opportunity to be in the running for two HR manager jobs in the east. After much reflection, I couldn't possibly take either, which would force my husband to find another job in this tepid economy, my daughters (who are already 3 hours away from me) to be even farther away from their mom, and the economics of selling a house we bought at the top of the demand-ridden market and buying on in a still-high market in the east.
Do I regret my decisions? No. Do I lament them? Sometimes, yes. I started researching why women aren't in more leadership roles, despite the fact that we have, on average, more education and more people agility skills than men. I'm coming to the conclusion that I'm not alone - work is not going to solely define me. I am not spending 80+ hours a week for a company who will, at best, move me every two years for my 'development' (read: their convenience). While I would certainly love the power and money that comes from a promotion, and the change of scenery, my decisions are based on my husband, and his career, and my teen age daughters - and my own dreams and ambitions. And I'm confident that my husband would base any of his career decisions on me and where I am going. And perhaps I just don't need the pressure of a high power job. I love my life. I work hard, I am respected (for the most part), and I can come home at the end of the day and not answer e-mails and phone calls, I can enjoy my husband, our house, our friends, our hobbies, and my pursuit of a Ph.D. I've achieved all of that, and the best is yet to come.
Does this mean that the women's revolution has stalled? I don't believe so. Rather, women are standing up and saying, yes, we are worthy, yes we CAN do this, but hell no, we don't want it. We can contribute by being managers who don't spend hundreds of hours more in the office monthly, we can bring our skills and expertise to the party, but still go home and be a part of our own parties. This is not a weakness. This is a benefit to all human-kind that women can excel in top leadership positions, but can also choose to contribute in ways that are meaningful for themselves and their own lifestyles.