Women in the workplace 2023 (McKinsey)
McKinsey released the results from their annual survey of women's experience in the workplace, and the headline reads: “Women are more ambitious than ever, and workplace flexibility is fueling them. Yet despite some hard-fought gains, women’s representation is not keeping pace.”
The fact that ambition is soaring, yet achievement is stalling out indicates that there are structural problems. Women face their biggest hurdle in the transition to manager, a problem known as “the broken rung”. As the report points out, for every 100 men promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women were promoted. The picture is even more dire for women of color, who were promoted at the rate of 73 women for every 100 men.
On motherhood and rage (Is My Kid the Asshole?)
Minna Davis wrote an essay titled “I am going to physically explode” shortly after we all emerged, bleary-eyed and worse-for-the-wear, from COVID lockdown in the summer of 2020. I remember that it was sent around various group texts and emails chains that I was a part of. Davis has recently published a book called Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood that she discusses in this interview with Melinda Wenner Moyer. I encourage you to read the whole article, but I’m pulling out an important quote:
Society tells us motherhood is the pinnacle of womanhood, and that if we have children we should not complain because we are #blessed. In actuality we are exhausted, lonely, overworked, in mental and sometimes physical anguish, yet everywhere we go, everyone coos at our babies and looks at us with big smiles, and tells us to enjoy every second because “it goes by so fast.” So we start to wonder if something is wrong with us. Even though we are being oppressed through deep structural and familial neglect, we wonder if we’re the ones who are bad. This is how the culture gaslights mothers. It makes us question if our version of reality until we blame ourselves for our dissatisfaction and our rage.
5 tactics to combat a culture of false urgency at work (Harvard Business Review)
A consistent theme among my coaching clients—regardless of what industry they work in—is a feeling that they are constantly putting out fires. Their organizations are stuck in cycles of reactivity, which leads them to feel like they are always on alert and never have time to do their “real work”. Of course, sometimes there are legitimate crises that need swift responses, but most of the time we get trapped in a false sense of urgency.
This is a dangerous trap. False urgency leads to burnout, low morale, exhaustion, and disengagement. I appreciate that this article gives concrete suggestions for changing this kind of culture, at least on a team-level (if not on an organizational level). Staying calm in the face of chaos is a skill that many of us have refined during parenthood—leverage those skills to help change the culture at work!
I don’t share this article to frighten or incite, but rather to inform. This article summarizes a recent report put out by Sandy Hook Promise. (It’s well-worth reading the original report—if you can stomach it—but reading this summary article is a must, in my opinion). In an effort to increase their sales, gun manufacturers are increasingly advertising to kids, often “intentionally us[ing] brash themes of masculinity and militarism to help sell these weapons.”
Though social media platforms prohibit the direct sale of firearms on their platforms, they allow influencers—who are paid by the gun industry—to share posts advertising and promoting guns. As the original report points out, kids’ brains are not mature enough to fully process the information they are seeing: “even after kids are old enough to differentiate between ads and other content, they cannot necessarily understand that marketers have their own agenda nor can they control the feelings that advertising is designed to provoke” (emphasis added). Which is why it’s so important to have frequent conversation with our kids on this topic.
The art of quitting (Vox)
To quit or not to quit? We have all grappled with this question at some point. Maybe you’re grappling with it right now. This article explores why it can be so difficult to quit, advice for how to decide whether to quit or whether to stick it out, and concrete suggestions for how to quit when the time comes. But my favorite paragraph is the following:
“Quitting can feel like standing on the precipice of a cliff, not knowing what awaits. However, the sooner you recognize a relationship, job, or practice isn’t for you, the more time you have to dedicate to the people and hobbies you are passionate about. Walking away is about choice [. . .] and agency — choosing to make the most of our lives instead of suffering through them.”
They may sound like platitudes: “I’m my own worst enemy”, “Your greatest strengths are your greatest weaknesses”, but these saying contain truth. We can, unknowingly and unwittingly, sabotage ourselves.
In their book Thanks for the Feedback, Douglas Stone and Shelia Heen suggest asking: “What’s one thing you see me doing that gets in my own way?” There are several things I like about this question. First, it acknowledges that we can’t see our blind spots (this is—for even the most insightful of us—inherently true and universal. By definition, we can’t see what we’re “blind” to). Second, I appreciate how flexible it is. You can use it in multiple different contexts—ask your supervisor, your direct reports, your lateral colleagues, collaborators, even your spouse. And finally, it’s a casual yet direct way for soliciting important feedback. Give it a try and see what you learn!
I did an interview recently, and the interviewer asked me whether I was scared when I started my own business. The answer? Absolutely! I am a pretty cautious person and a perfectionist. These two characteristics do not incline me to take bold risks.
In my mental battle to decide whether I should leave the comfort of my academic job to be a full-time entrepreneur, I finally had to embrace the concept of calculated risk. I took comfort in knowing that this was not an impulsive decision. I had market-tested my concept, built a client base, and demonstrated that it had the ability to succeed—all while doing it as a side gig. I knew that doing it full time would be a lot of work, but I believed that it would be worth it in the end. Spoiler alert: it was!
What was the last risk you took?
Was it worth it?
How you can better embrace the concept of calculated risk in your life?
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