What is real power for women? Usually a deep analysis of such a question does not come to me during my gym workouts. But that changed last week when I came across an essay by Maria Schriver in an October 2007 Newsweek magazine. It was part of the Women and Leadership issue, entitled "Authentic Life: Real power comes from confronting the challenges each woman faces and passing on hard-won wisdom."
Her point was to say, "[i]t's about being true to yourself and finding your own voice and path in the world. The way you come to your power is through your life's experiences and knowing who you are." She then puts this statement into context by describing many of the roles women take on: the corner office, supermom, etc.
What struck me about her essay was her true observation that you create your own power by setting a path on your terms, whether it's a high-powered career in business and/or motherhood. She sees "women working to craft jobs that fit into their overall lives as opposed to blindly accepting the model in which power is achieved solely by climbing the corporate ladder."
And if I had a lesson to pass on to my younger self, it would have been to know and be comfortable with Maria's observation early on. Abstractly I knew that life in the working world would be a compromise of my goals of professional and family success. But when you face tough choices about whether to change a career or job because it is not flexible enough to accommodate you, the abstract becomes real. My generation was the one where "you can have it all," but the concept of compromise got lost or forgotten.
So then you start to question whether you are "successful" and "powerful" when making nontraditional choices, like part-time work and having a family. I have not questioned that in awhile, but I appreciated seeing Maria put her point into writing so that others can learn from it. Do you agree with Maria's characterization of women's power as it relates to career choice?