Ambitious women still sidelined

I recently watched two TED Talks videos of speeches given by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. Both focus on why there aren’t many women leaders.

In her speech, Sandberg talked about three reasons women are not climbing the corporate ladder in any profession. Although I could relate to all three, there was one that stuck out – “Don’t leave before you leave.”

“Don’t make decisions too far in advance, particularly ones you’re not even conscious you are making,” Sandberg said in her speech.

She said sometimes women think too far in advance and start to lean back in their careers in order to make room for their future plans.

I am guilty of thinking this way. I’ve been in a serious relationship for about three years. My boyfriend is 26 and has his career going. He’s pretty much where he wants to be for the time being, but he plans on advancing in positions as opportunities arise.

I’m 21, with less than a year of college left, and I’ve come to a point where I’m thinking about my life after college – marriage and a career. I’ve started planning my life around that ring that isn’t even on my finger yet. I’m forced to think about choosing between the career I’ve always wanted or having kids and supporting my husband.

Why is it that for men having a family is an “and,” but for women it’s an “or”? Men can have a successful, fulfilling career and be married with children, but women can have a family or advance their careers — not both.

I want both, but feel like I can’t, just as the majority of women feel. They take a step back from pursuing their career to raise their children full time. Women feel that they can’t pursue their careers first, because the men in our lives would not support the idea.

Luckily for me, my boyfriend knows that I crave success and I am not going to give up my dreams of being at the top of my game to be a stay-at-home mother who’s going to have dinner ready for him every day when he gets home from work. He’s OK with that. He supports me and that’s what I need. That’s what all ambitious women need.

I’m tired of seeing women of all ages just standing on the sidelines to watch their partners succeed in life while they put their dreams to the side because our society has made it harder for women to succeed.

Let’s change that worldview.

About Laura Quach

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