Today I came across a blog called Where The Bright Women Are. Their premise is this: what happened to all of the bright and brave young women readying themselves to rule the world and how did we end up so unrepresented at ‘the top’? (According to Grazia magazine, only 12.5% of women run FTSE 100 companies and WTBWA confirms only 3% of CEOs are women.)
I have found myself asking that very same question quite a lot of late. Being at ‘the top’ just doesn’t hold the same appeal any more and the last year or so has had me speculating why.
In retrospect, moving to London in 2004 was not the greatest career move but I suspect I was disenfranchised before this and maybe upping sticks like I did was my way of throwing all the toys out of the pram at once to see which of them I yearned for most. I have never wanted to get married and even less, to have children and that hasn’t changed. And nowadays, I find myself ranking happiness, maybe even a little joy, and self expression most highly in both where I work and what I contribute.
Self expression – maybe that’s the key. Not moulding myself to fit someone’s ideal of what it takes but rather finding an environment that allows me to be the full force of ‘me’: demanding, smart, brave, compassionate and eminently likable. The creative thinker. The solution finder. The rapport builder. The one who loves to belong but needs her space. The pragmatic soul who revels in chasing the occasional rainbow.
One of the great benefits of the online world is that it is an absolute treasure trove of learning opportunities, opinions, discussions and communities. We may not meet others in the same way our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers did but the circle of women is still there – asking, sharing, offering advice and learning from each other.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not looking for Where The Bright Women Are to provide ‘the answer’. But being amongst a group of like-minded women asking the same questions may provide some interesting signposts for me for the next stretch along my own path.
Thanks Louise, I hear many similar stories. Maybe the shift to be made is in the intrinsic structure of how business is done – biggest is not necessarily best but it's what companies strive for to gain economies. Food for thought.
It's interesting … I spent years climbing the corporate ladder. But when I got to the top, I got tired of it all very quickly. Now I have my own business and work from home – I'm so much happier than I ever was.
I know other successful women who chose to step back and take lower level jobs, even though they had reached the executive-level. And one who chose to go work for a non-profit for a third of her old salary.
These are just anecdotes of course, and I don't know the reasons for it all, but it's interesting.