Came across this recent piece in USA Today that hit a nerve. Written by Anita Bruzzese, it cites a nationwide survey from More magazine in which 43 percent of 500 women, ages 35 to 60, say they are less ambitious now than they were a decade ago.
And only a quarter say they’re working toward their next promotion.
Some even more eyebrow-raising gems: Two of three women polled say they would prefer to have more free time than a bigger paycheck and two of five say they’d be willing to accept less money for more flexibility.
Seventy-three percent say they would not apply for their boss’ job and 38 percent say they don’t want to put up with the stress, office politics and responsibility that often go hand-in-hand with such positions.
And my favorite: 92 percent say they value workplace flexibility, but a third consider it career suicide to ask for more flexibility in their jobs.
“We’re bemoaning the lack of women in top Fortune 500 companies or women in political office,” More Editor-in-Chief Lesley Jane Seymour tells Bruzzese. “We’re sliding backwards, and here’s your answer [as to why]. It’s because we have thrown ice water all over ambition.”
As the economy struggles, she says, “if we back off from promoting women, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The real focus of the piece — a single mom from Dallas named Tiffany Willis, who left a middle-management position to, as she says, “own my life” — calls many of the meaningful, ladder-climbing, career-enhancing positions now filled by women “heart-attack jobs.”
“… I strongly believe they took years off my life,” she tells Bruzzese. “I have been referred by people for other [management] positions, and I tell them no amount of money is worth it. I don’t care if they offered me a million dollars.”
She describes herself as “that mom sitting at the top of the bleachers at my kid’s Saturday-morning football game on my cell phone for a conference call with my laptop.” Hey, that stuff’s been going on for years. I remember watching many a varsity soccer or baseball game with reporter pad in hand trying to craft a lead for an article due later that night.
It’s amazing how long we’ve been at this working woman/working mother thing, yet how far we still seem to be from a universal ideal situation. The women I talk to, from HR leaders at conferences to relatives and friends, seem to agree corporate America is still in social-experiment mode when it comes to workplace flexibility, telecommuting and trust.
And, by all means, this inadequate corporate culture wreaks havoc on young men and working dads, too. They’re just not finding themselves forced to make as many dramatic, life-changing decisions — I don’t think — as women.
“Women will continue to be powerful,” as Willis puts it, “but it’s not going to be with a two-hour commute and a corner office.”