Madame senator/Dr inventor of something amazing/Ms CEO – How do you balance your career with your family responsibilities?
I have a college friend who is a state-level elected official.
She won’t join any groups on facebook because she knows she will be hassled by strangers.
She gets hate email to her work email address.
Lat month, she had to figure out how to tell the public about an accident her little girl had – the girl fell and broke her ankle. Most of us don’t need to share that kind of information with strangers, but if you’re a a woman in politics, it’s required.
When Jim Sensenbrenner’s wife had a stroke, I don’t think he made a public statement about it. Nobody asks the men what’s going on in their home lives.
But if a woman has any degree of distraction – well, she owes us an explanation!
Actually, it’s probably more preventive – if a woman is distracted, her opponents are going to tear her apart.
So my friend put out a statement about her kid, although she tried to be as vague as possible. It’s personal. It’s her child. Her child is not part of this.
But because my friend had to miss a public event – when your child has just broken her ankle, you are not going to leave her alone at home so you can cut a ribbon, she had to give a reason that would be good enough.
That’s not even the story I want to tell here. I don’t think any of you are surprised that the expectations of women are completely different from the expectations of men.
Here’s the real story:
My friend did all of this – and also made a speech on the floor of the legislature and walked in a 4th of July parade – while working in an emergency biopsy.
She went for her regular mammogram and her doc was concerned enough that she said BIOPSY NOW TODAY THIS MINUTE.
She gave a speech while not only worrying about her little girl but also wondering if she had breast cancer.
I am going to say that again: She gave a speech on the floor of the legislature while she was waiting for the results of an emergency biopsy.
“Why didn’t she just tell people?” Mr T asked. “How could she do all of that without breaking down?”
He asked that sincerely.
Because if a man – an elected official – shared that kind of personal information, nobody would say, “See? That’s why men are unfit for public office! They get so distracted by family and personal issues!”
But if a woman shares that information – well, that’s why women aren’t fit to hold office. If a woman gets emotional – btw, anger is an emotion but when men express anger, they are “passionate,” not “too emotional” – then she is wrong. If a man shares intimate health information, he’s brave. If a woman does it, she’s oversharing and this is why women should not be in public office.