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Women at Work: A Performance Review

I have always been a fan of performance evaluations. We all need to know how we are doing, especially if there are areas of challenge. It can be difficult to hear less-than-glowing reviews, but how else can we make the necessary changes?

Let’s take a hard look at where things stand for women in the workplace.

We are thankfully past the time in which women had two very limited choices: Homemaker or “Career” woman, and those teacher/nurse/secretary career choices were, of course, quite narrow.

Next up: The “Have It All” phase, in which we all bought into the myth that women could have dynamic careers and perfectly organized home lives. What a lovely and exhausting myth that was. The media fed into our desire to project an image of success in every area of our lives, all at the same time. The common, hidden theme of this phase was our collective feelings of inadequacy. Even the silly woman in the Enjoli perfume commercial (“I can bring home the bacon …”) seemed to have it together better than we did.

Moving forward to the modern day, we now realize that a time-consuming career and a time-consuming home life are about choices. We have a set number of hours, and it’s not changing any time soon. It’s simple arithmetic, and every one of our equations looks different.

So, why does the working world continue to pass judgment on women, no matter their choices? Women who choose to stay home are marginalized (some are even made to feel worthless), those who are dedicated to high-powered careers are deemed selfish and driven, and career women who make changes to better integrate their work and lives are on a “mommy track?” That’s a lot of name-calling, and if we are being honest, we must admit that women themselves are doing some of the slinging.

Women with career ambitions in the 1950s had to contend with old-school men who wanted to force them into a homemaker mold. Women with homemaker aspirations in the present day, sadly, contend with other women who attempt to force them into a career mold that simply does not fit in every case. That is shameful, ladies. True feminism should be a celebration of women, no matter their choices. Previous generations of women worked very hard to afford us the right to choose our paths.

One simple thing needs to happen for the conflict to end: Culture Change. It’s a wonderful beginning that women are approaching their work in their own way, but we need to go further and spread the word about this concept until it isn’t new any more.

That is the best way we can hold the business world to a standard that allows for all women, whether they are in the home, a home office, or the corner office, to be taken as the hard working, dedicated, and powerful community that we are.

By Carolyn Kepcher is the Founder and CEO of Work Her Way