It’s A Man’s World

Why do women continue to compare their career path to men, when very few women actually have a comparable journey?

For men, the path is commonly a linear trajectory – they work in a role, get a promotion, work in that role, get another promotion and so on. It looks rather simple, natural and linear. In most cases, the next step is obvious, clear and over time it will happen.

The journey for women tends to be more of a rather messy, squiggly line. The path has multiple stops and starts, sideways moves, backtracks, start overs and reinventions. There is nothing wrong with a squiggly line, but too often women feel “bad” about their career because their path looks different. It’s not a simple, tidy straight line, and often the next step is not clear.

It’s time women stopped feeling bad about their messy career path and started celebrating how squiggly they are.

Your journey is unique to you and your experiences are different. Your squiggle does not look the same as your sisters or your girlfriends. Celebrate your unique path and stop comparing yourself to others. By virtue of comparison, we are creating unnecessary pressure because that’s what comparison does.

There are many reasons why the path is messy and squiggly, and each of those loops represents another milestone in life. Consider the interruptions to the journey that having a family can impose. Then there are moments where women start something, only to discover that for whatever reason it isn’t the right path.

Women also carry a mental load that can distract them, yet men achieve their career “success” without carrying this mental load. With the “lean in” movement women have been told to take a seat at the table, but in reality that seat isn’t as easy to sit on as a man’s. Men can turn up for a meeting and literally sit at the table with nothing else on their mind except the agenda being discussed. Women will sit at the table and while participating in the meeting, they are also mentally planning the grocery shop, dinner, wondering if the soccer uniform is clean for the game tonight, when they might catch up with those friends and so on. The mental load that women carry is different to men, which can impact their ability to progress their career.

In addition, women are more inclined to seek fulfilment from what they do. It is common mid life for women to wonder if this is really it? Isn’t there more I ought to be doing? Women are more willing to rethink and reassess their path and maybe take a sideways or a backwards step to have greater fulfilment in what they do.

With squiggly paths women need to recognise there are different ways to define success. Becoming the top, most senior manager isn’t always the right definition. It doesn’t mean the journey is less rewarding.

What does your path look like? Maybe your journey isn’t a full time career, maybe your journey will always be a juggle of family, volunteering, and paid work. What’s really important is that you find joy and fulfilment in your journey. Showing up for yourself and your family in the way you want.

I invite you to think of your own path, what does it look like and ask yourself what success looks like for you?

Emily Rogers
The Leap To Lead

About the Author – Emily Rogers

Emily Rogers is the founder of The Leap to Lead and a transition coach for individuals and organizations ready to show up the way they have always desired. Drawing on her experience and the frameworks developed as a senior HR leader across multiple industries, Emily now empowers women to be the leader in their own lives. She is passionate about providing clarity, developing an action plan and getting things done to see you finally living the life you want.