Last week rumblings began around the internet about plans for “A Day Without a Woman,” which would highlight how much women do, at the same time that the celebrations of International Women’s Day were being planned. Neither has been without controversy, which actually seems to be par for the course for days-of-awareness and grassroots initiatives lately. Writing this as a business owner, mother of three daughters, and married to a man who was raised by a single mom, I have some opinions on all of it.
I’m not here to pick fights or sling harsh words, I’d really like to just talk about women, not because men don’t matter. I want to talk about women because our agency is women-owned. This isn’t lip service or “abusing the system” as I once had a man say to me. The reality is that of the 12 people who work here, 6 are women. Two of those women, Staci and Leslie, have been hired within the last six months. We didn’t set out to hire women, but as candidates for the open positions, they exemplified the skills and character traits needed in the mix at that time. They could not be more different from one another in how they design and think. I laughed at great length when Staci said, “I do none of the cooking and very little of the cleaning at home. Karl and I like to challenge gender roles.” Leslie talks about parental responsibilities over the dog she and her husband share.
I enjoy having women as a part of our team and I am proud to be a woman in a position of power who is able to open doors for other women. This doesn’t mean that I coddle women on my staff or set different expectations for them, in fact, I may be considered the least nurturing of anyone in the office. It’s ok.
I spent last week out of the office in order to be with my children during the school holiday. I haven’t always felt comfortable doing this and earlier in my career I chose not to a lot of the time in order to project a “professional appearance.” I understand, particularly as I follow the discussions online about participating in A Day Without a Woman and how someone women who have to work feel left out, that the flexibility and autonomy I have to take the time is not something that everyone has. I also know as a business owner that the work is still there to get done when I return, it’s really just delaying what needs to be done.
My business partner is out for a few days to spend time with her daughter who is away at college. Her absence in the office will be felt, but it is also understood that we all take time off and that we have different things that fuel us and root us. As a result of our personal lives and professional decisions, we bring different things to the business.
Grace Bonney of Design Sponge and author of In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs said in an interview with Business Insider about women and work-life balance:
“… I think the biggest sort of eye opener for me was realizing that almost all of these women had in common the idea that they had given up work/life balance, because I think that it’s a concept that doesn’t — it is not rooted in reality. I think that life and work are constantly in flux, and the market in which we’re all working is constantly in flux.”
Everyone is looking for balance, personal fulfillment, and professional growth. I happen to believe that the more we surround ourselves with people who have different perspectives and desires, the better we are able to navigate the world, service our clients, and define our roles.
This morning a friend of mine with a fierce digital business included Trampoline in a round up of women-owned businesses. The article below highlights women in the design industry who are making waves, gorgeous, bold waves.
Today we sit at the precipice of more hires. Maybe they’ll be men, maybe they’ll be women, who knows? What I can say with certainty is that the jobs are available because of the contributions and sacrifices of women. I am grateful for the women and open minded men who came before me and made it not so outside the realm of possibility that I do what I do. It’s because of them that a meeting in 2005 played out in this way:
“Uh, hi, I’d like to speak to a manager about some work I’d like done.”
I smiled as I stepped forward with an outstretched hand and said, “You can talk to me.”
He did a double take and said with a laugh, “They let the women do the meetings here?”
I smiled again, “Actually, they let the women do the owning. What can I help you with, sir?”