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Marriages Now More Fair and More Passionate — Stephanie Coontz

Contributor: Liz Stiverson

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 PM EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community and the private self (mind, body and spirit).

On Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Stephanie Coontz, the Director of Research at the Council on Contemporary Families, and the author of seven books on marriage, family life, and male-female relationships, including her most recent A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s. Friedman and Coontz spoke about the evolution of men’s and women’s roles and their expectations for parenthood, and the way progress on those fronts also presents new challenges.

The following are edited excerpts of their conversation and a few questions for the reader, at the end, which we invite you to respond to in the comments section below:

Stew Friedman: What do you think about the recent research which found that people in their sixties and seventies are frustrated that their children are not having children of their own, which is creating tension in families and increasing pressures on the workplace to create environments in which people can have children while working, if that’s something they want?

Stephanie Coontz: Stephanie CoontzI think that’s an interesting example of a well-documented trend in international studies.  At a certain point after women enter the workforce in large numbers, the national fertility rate tends to drop. Social conservatives in the United States have suggested that if as a society we don’t make childcare easily available, women will be forced from the workplace and go back to having babies, but evidence suggests that the opposite is actually true.  When you make it harder for women to combine work and family, women don’t start families. If you want, as a society, to have more kids, you need to make it easier for women to combine work and family. Countries like France and Sweden are doing better in terms of maintaining fertility because they have instituted such polices.

SF: In Baby Bust, our study comparing Gen Xers and Millennials at the time they graduated from college, 20 years apart, we found that one of the main reasons young people today are less likely to plan or adopt children of their own is that they feel pressure to be fully engaged on the domestic front. They anticipate a greater conflict between their work and family lives, and therefore think, “I don’t see how I can do it, so I’m not going to try.”

SC: I think there are tremendous pressures that are further amplified by growing income inequality in our society. Historically, people wanted their career to be a competence. They didn’t want a fortune – they wanted something that would allow them to competently live their lives. There’s been a hollowing-out of jobs that allow you to have a comfortable life and still be secure; parents and even potential parents feel as though they have to engage in a competitive race to get ahead in the workplace and in life, and if they have kids, they also put pressure on themselves to constantly enrich their kids to give them the same competitive edge. That becomes a very wearing process.

SF: So you’re saying economic pressures have an influence on how parents approach the joys and challenges of rearing their children? That they might feel, because of economic insecurity, an obligation to produce a child who is going to be able to thrive in a competitive marketplace?

SC: People in the the upper middle class – people who are educated and looking forward to professional or managerial careers – have new options and opportunities now. There’s been a hollowing-out of the wage structure, and the advantage of being educated and in a professional job is much greater than it used to be. Less educated, less skilled workers have experienced drastically falling real wages over the last 30 years. But we’re also seeing increasing inequality not just between groups but within groups – for example, college confers a great benefit if you go to the right college and if things work out for you, but you can go to college and still fall behind. I think that leads to a lot of pressure for students who feel as though, “It’s not like I can get into an organization with a clear job ladder and know there will always be a place for me. I’ve got to be the best or I might be nothing.” I think this is a particularly intense problem in America, where there is a lack of a social safety net. Since the early 20th century, America has boasted more opportunities for individuals to buy things for themselves, but fewer opportunities for individuals to rely on public investment in spaces like hospitals and playgrounds. That trend has been accelerated and exacerbated even more within the last few years – there’s a frantic sense that, “If I don’t do this myself, I won’t have it at all.” Countries that have broader investment in healthcare systems and other social safety nets may have parents who feel less likely to hit the jackpot for themselves or their kids, but also less scared of losing everything.

SF: What’s your take on how the media is shaping notions of what family life is, and what it should be?

SC: Many people mourn the way media has motivated a change in values, but I think changes in values are complicated. I’ve been known to mutter things like “the fall of the Roman empire” when I catch glimpses of reality television, but on the other hand, you have to step back and understand that there are some ways in which our values have really improved since the 1950’s and 1960’s. We’re far less tolerant of racism and much more accepting of same-sex couples and women’s personhood. Some of the changes are surprising and seem on the surface to be contradictory – for example, we’re much more tolerant of a range of pre-marital and non-marital sexual behaviors than ever before, but we’re much less tolerant of infidelity and non-consensual sex than ever before. Since the 1970’s we’ve seen a rise in pornography and the glorification of violence, but the rates of rape and sexual assault have declined a stunning 68% since we started keeping accurate records. I think that’s attributed to the changing relationship between men and women – the more egalitarian power dynamic. Some of the things Millennials do are ruder than I’m used to, but on the other hand, a Millennial would never say, “Oh, here comes a cripple,” which was very common in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when people’s attitudes toward Jews, women, homosexuals, the disabled, and many other minorities were much less tolerant. One of the things that fascinates me as a historian is the notion of trade-offs. Almost every historical gain opens new challenges and problems in its place. For example, in my research on marriage, I find that when it works, marriage has become fairer, more intimate, and more passionate – it delivers more benefits to all members of the family than ever before in history. But the things that have allowed it to do so – for example, the fact that it’s a choice for both parties because women have other options and can set ground rules as equal partners – also create more points at which it can become unsatisfactory and break down. I think we see this in almost every element of life; some of the cultural problems we look at today are the flip-side of some important cultural gains we wouldn’t want to give up.

Coontz sees a link between the government’s provision of social services and young people’s plans to have children.  The decline of the one-job-for-life model has meant the rise of the many-careers-in-a-life model – should government support it?  Were your decisions about whether and when to have children – or, if you haven’t yet made those decisions, will they be – motivated by the growing range of choices available to your generation or by fear of not being able to fully commit to family life? Join us in the comments section below with your thoughts and experiences.

Join Work and Life Tuesday, May 6 at 7 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Peter McGraw, Dir. Of the Humor Research Lab at the Univ. of Colorado and author of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, and Cali Yost, CEO and Founder of Flex+Strategy Group. Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Liz StiversonLiz Stiverson is a 2014 MBA candidate at The Wharton School.

Combat the Tightrope Effect with Gender Judo and a Posse — Joan Williams

Contributor: Alice Liu

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton. Every Tuesday from 7 pm to 9 pm EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community, and the private self (mind, body, and spirit).

Stew Friedman spoke with Joan Williams, Hastings Foundation Chair and Director of the Center for Work Life Law at the University of California (Hastings). Williams has played a central role in reshaping the debate on women’s advancement for the past quarter-century. Her newest book, What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know, discusses the strategies that women can utilize to combat pervasive gender biases in the workplace.

The following are edited excerpts of Friedman’s conversation with Williams.

Stew Friedman: Let’s talk about the four patterns that every woman should know about and how to navigate through them.

Joan Williams: Joan WilliamsOne pattern of gender bias that really plays into work-family conflict is that women often feel that they have to prove themselves over and over again, providing much more evidence of competence than their male colleagues in order to be perceived as equally competent. Women’s successes are more likely to be attributed to luck rather than skill. In our interviews, we heard women over and over again feeling that men were judged on potential while women were judged strictly on performance. Because of this, women often feel that they literally have to work harder than men in order to be seen as equally competent, especially since women’s mistakes tend to be noticed more and remembered longer.

If people are going to tend to notice and remember your mistakes while at the same time overlooking your successes, then you have to be in a position to jog their memory. A very effective way for women to self-promote is what we call the posse where you form a group of men as well as women and you celebrate each other’s accomplishments. The reason the posse is such a good strategy is because of the gender bias called the tightrope, which stems from the fact that all high paying jobs are traditionally seen as requiring masculine qualities, while women are expected to be feminine. So women in these jobs often find themselves walking a tightrope between being seen as too masculine – respected but not liked – and being seen as too feminine – liked but not respected.

SF: How does the posse help you become both liked and respected?

JW: The posse is part of a series of strategies I call gender judo. You’re using a feminine stereotype – in this case it’s the stereotype of the selfless woman – but you’re using it not to hold you back but rather to propel you forward. The posse is gender judo in the sense that you’re doing something that’s considered masculine – promoting yourself – in what’s seen as a suitably feminine way by engaging with others. Because after all, what’s more appropriate for the feminine stereotype than to be celebrating the successes of someone else?

Another gender judo strategy stems from the common phrase, “women don’t get ahead because they don’t ask.” It’s true that women are less likely than men to negotiate for themselves. There’s been a lot of talk about how women should just step up and ask, but the studies show that when women do ask they tend to be seen as less likeable and people are less likely to hire them.

The solution is not to not ask. In What Works for Women at Work, we provide very specific guidance on how a woman can ask and negotiate for herself.  What’s missing here? For example, you could say, “My supervisor said it was really important to negotiate the salary.” So the request is on behalf of another. Another example: when Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook she negotiated for her salary and later said, “I really needed to set an example for the group.” Again, she was acting for others not just for herself.

Brian, a caller: What are the steps that need to happen to make the inequalities in the workplace better for women?

JW: I think that we need to do something very concrete, something that people haven’t done. For example, we can redesign performance evaluations to interrupt implicit bias. If we know that men tend to be judged on potential and women on achievement, then we need to redesign performance evaluations so that everybody is first asked about the potential of the candidate and then the performance of the candidate. This will hopefully make that kind of bias go away.

SF: What else can organizations do?

JW: This is ultimately part of a larger intellectual project. When I wrote What Works for Women at Work, I really wrote it in response to the fact that I’ve been working on the issue of women’s advancement for 20 years. When I started, 15% of law firm partners were women, and today as we speak, still only 15% of law firm partners are women. I’m not saying that there hasn’t been any change, but women’s advancement leveled off in the mid-1990s.

That’s why I thought, “Organizations should change. Organizations aren’t changing.” I decided then to write a book that shows female leaders not what should work for women at work but what does work for women at work, because these patterns of bias are unfortunately very pervasive. What Works for Women at Work shows women how to navigate organizations as they exist – deeply shaped by gender bias. The next step is to redesign business systems so that organizations really do begin to change, and that’s what I’m turning my attention to now.

Williams discusses the ways in which gender judo can help women navigate and overcome the biases in the workplace. Have you ever used gender judo? What were your experiences? Join us in the comments below with your thoughts.

To learn more about Williams’s work, follow her on Twitter @JoanCWilliams and on her Huffington Post blog.

Tune in to Work and Life next Tuesday, April 29 at 7:00 to 9:00 PM EDT on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Prasad Setty, Google’s Vice President of People Analytics, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America Foundation and author of the widely popular article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” in The Atlantic.Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Alice LiuAlice Liu is an undergraduate senior studying Management at The Wharton School and English (Creative Writing) at the College of Arts & Sciences. 

Make Workplace Flexibility Work For You – Allison O’Kelly

Contributor: Morgan Motzel

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton. Every Tuesday from 7 pm to 9 pm EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community, and the private self (mind, body, and spirit).

This week on Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Allison Karl O’Kelly, Founder and CEO of MomCorps, about the growing consciousness of the value created by workplace flexibility arrangements. O’Kelly discussed how engaging your networks, managing stakeholder expectations, and having honest personal conversations can bring about work-life satisfaction for individuals in new and unexpected ways.

The following are edited excerpts of Friedman’s conversation with O’Kelly:

Stew Friedman: The conversation about workplace flexibility has changed these days. We’re operating in a different landscape now where there’s more fertile ground for innovation, and where MomCorps, as a staffing agency, can push its client firms to adjust their employment policies and become more flexible.

Allison O'KellyAllison Karl O’Kelly: Yes. I think that companies now, for the most part, want to make flexibility work. This is especially true when you’re talking about the Human Resources department of many organizations. They understand the importance of flexibility. Now it’s about understanding how to make flexible arrangements work.  I think that once the mindset is there, it’s a lot easier to help companies implement strategies to make it work.

SF: How do you get that initial mindset shift? What are your methods for making that happen for an employer?

AOK: As far as the mindset shift is concerned, I see that most people have that already. We don’t spend a lot of time trying to convince people why work flexibility is good. What we do spend a lot of time doing is trying to just get companies to understand the quality of candidates for a given role and to grasp why they can get a better candidate if they’re willing to provide some flexibility to him or her. We often talk about flexibility as being another form of currency. Sometimes it can actually be a way to save money – whether that’s not paying for full-time work that can be done part-time or not paying for office space. We’re certainly not asking companies to hire someone flexible who is not the right person for the organization, but hopefully they can quickly understand that if they give up a little bit on the flexibility piece, they are going to get an amazing candidate that they otherwise might not be able to get.

SF: They can maybe even get a better work method out of it too, in the experiment of trying a new way to get things done.

AOK: That’s also important. We hear over and over again about folks who work on a part-time basis and how amazingly productive they are. I personally think that’s because when people are treated like adults and they’re given that level of flexibility they’re just so much more loyal to their employers. They really want to perform well and do a good job for them.

SF: I’ve found that in order to make any kind of alternative work arrangement work, it has to be not only something that is good for you, but also beneficial for your employer, and even more, for your family and your community. I like people to think of creating what I call “four-way wins” among these four domains of their lives. I believe thinking that way really helps you negotiate effectively because you’re thinking from the point of view of the people around you and not just your own needs. Is that an idea that resonates with your approach?

AOK: Absolutely. We talk about that a lot when we are giving advice, not only just to our candidates, but also when we’re simply talking or writing on the subject – it really is so important that it’s not just about you. Certainly, if you’re going to ask for a flexible work arrangement, in your head it is about you, but you also need to figure out why the employer should be good with what you’re suggesting. There could be so many reasons for that. Cost savings is always a good one, but especially if you’ve been at a company for a long time, retention is also very important.

For example, maybe there are opportunities for you to bring somebody else on, and you can train that person so that the company ends up spending the same money they’re spending now but for two people. They’re not going to have that work otherwise. That’s why it is so essential to figure out what is most important to your employer. Perhaps it’s really important to them that you are at a particular meeting every Friday, and so you will make sure that you’re at each of those meetings. That, then, becomes part of your deal. Ultimately, I think you need to find a way for the employer to feel comfortable with your idea and feel as though the company is getting something valuable out of this arrangement, rather than simply doing you a favor.

SF: That’s a critical theme we’re going to come back to again and again throughout the Work and Life show. It’s really essential because what many employers fear, of course, is that when people ask for alternative work arrangements that they, as the employer, are going to lose something. What they have to be shown is that they’re actually going to gain something. It sounds like you do a lot at MomCorps to try to make that happen.

AOK: Absolutely. I agree that this idea is critical. Gone are the days when your employer would say, “Let’s just do this because I really like Allison, and she’s a nice person.” We don’t have the money or the time for that these days. First of all, you have to be somebody who is very valuable to the organization, and, second of all, whether you are already there or not, you need to prove why you are valuable to the organization and why allowing you to have an arrangement that might be different from what the general employee base has is actually going to be good for them as the employer and not get in the way of doing business. As we know, at the end of the day it is business, and they need to make sure that they are able to meet their outlined goals and objectives.

O’Kelly zeroes in on how organizations and employees can create mutual value by having honest conversations in open and trusting environments. Have you ever been a part of a workplace conversation with colleagues or managers in which you realized that your seemingly conflicting interests could both be realized through a creative solution? Join us in the comments below with your thoughts and experiences.

To learn more about O’Kelly’s work, visit https://www.momcorps.com.

Tune in to Work and Life next Tuesday, April 22 at 7 PM Eastern on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Doug Conant, Chairman of Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute, and former CEO and President of Campbell Soup, and Brigid Schulte, Washington Post reporter and author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has Time Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

 About the Author

Morgan MotzelMorgan Motzel is an undergraduate junior in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at Penn focusing on Management and Latin America.

Let Go of Guilt

Contributor: Liz Stiverson

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 PM EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community and the private self (mind, body and spirit).

Ashley Milne Tyte is a storyteller. Ashley Milne -TyteShe began her career as a journalist, and reported for American Public Media’s Marketplace for many years; she now hosts The Broad Experience, a podcast on recent best-of lists from The Guardian and Yahoo!, where she covers topics on women in the workplace, including women in tech, female confidence, women and negotiation. She joined Stew Friedman on Work and Life to talk about women’s communication at work, and how letting go of guilt can free them up to be happier in every sphere of life. Following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: Tell us about what led you to bring The Broad Experience to life.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: Some of my favorite stories when I reported for Marketplace had to do with women in the workplace – women’s careers, women in negotiation, the ways in which men and women behave differently in the workplace, how women can subtly undermine themselves without realizing it, how most organizations are still unwittingly stacked against women. I had never noticed those kinds of things before, but I started to notice them in my own life. I realized I was playing into all the stereotypes. Self-promotion, for example; I loathe it. However, I’ve become better at it, because I think you can’t live in America and not know how to sell yourself, or not at least try. I realized over the years, in various jobs, that if I didn’t talk myself up, no one else was going to. Women still don’t get this to a great degree. It may feel very uncomfortable to talk ourselves up and go to managers and say, “Let me remind you that this is what I’ve been working on, these are the results I’ve had. I’m good at these things.” There are lots of people out there and managers are busy. If you don’t remind them of the good work you’re doing, you could easily get passed over for something.

SF: What advice would you give to women trying to combat some of these behaviors that can fly under the radar?

AMT: For women, I would recommend starting with guilt. Many women suffer from mother guilt. They always feel they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time – when they’re at work, they feel terrible that they’re not spending enough time with their children. One of the people I’ve interviewed on the podcast is Mrs. Moneypenny, the very no-nonsense Financial Times columnist; she has bracing advice for women who have a tendency to feel guilty, which I think women really need to hear – we’re almost programmed to be guilty. She advises not feeling guilty about the fact that you’re working as well as being a parent. To broaden it, don’t beat yourself up about things in general. We are so apt and quick to blame ourselves for so many things, but feeling guilt saps energy you could be using to achieve something in your work or your family life.

SF: What should one do to reduce a lifelong pattern of feeling guilty, grown from a cultural imperative?

AMT: Mrs. Moneypenny has shared that she is always open with her children, telling them why she has to miss a sports evening or a parent teacher conference. When your children are old enough to understand, making it clear that you’re supporting the family and enabling things for your children makes a difference in helping them to understand the connection between work and family.

SF: When you take action that’s clearly intended to benefit the people around you in the long run but that, in the short run, might seem like a drain on them, it’s important to be conscious and deliberate about sharing with those stakeholders how your actions are for them. When you make your choices and your rationale known, it really makes a difference not only in how they see you, but how you see you.

AMT: I think women are sent overt and subtle messages all the time that being a mother is the most important thing you can possibly do. That contributes to the guilt and makes this tricky. I try not to lurk on Facebook at the apparently perfect lives of women I know. I haven’t bought women’s magazines for years, because they make me feel inadequate and guilty. As I’ve gained more confidence in myself as a person, I’ve become less susceptible to the messaging from society that I’m not doing enough.

Hear more from Ashley on The Broad Experience podcast and her blog, and follow her on Twitter @ashleymilnetyte.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday, April 8 at 7 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Julie Smolyansky and Maggie Jackson on creating harmony among all parts of life from the perspective of young leaders in the information age. Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author:

Liz StiversonLiz Stiverson is a 2014 MBA candidate at The Wharton School.

Strategies for Success for Baby Boom Women — Connie Gersick on Work and Life

Contributor: Alice Liu

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 PM EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community and the private self (mind, body and spirit).

Last week on Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with Dr. Connie Gersick about her research on how women can implement three key strategies to lead the life they truly want. Gersick is currently Visiting Scholar at the Yale University School of Management and was a professor of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior at UCLA’s Graduate School of Management for seventeen years. Her research for over a decade has centered on women’s lives and careers.

Following are edited excerpts of their conversation.

Stew Friedman: You carefully examined the lives of 40 women in a recent study – tell us a bit about it.

Connie Gersick: Connie GersickThe work that I did on how women manage tradeoffs throughout their adulthood is part of a larger study of women’s adult development. We’re used to thinking about child development. We’re not used to looking at the whole of adulthood as a time when people continue to grow, develop, and evolve, to arrange and rearrange their lives. How does that happen? What are some narratives that give a sense of what adult development is like? That was the context for the study as a whole. In total I talked with 40 women, but first, in the initial pilot study, we interviewed 10 women who were all top executives in a global financial services company.

SF: What really grabbed your attention in the initial pilot study?

CG: Talking to women who looked, on first meeting, so polished, so in command, so unruffled and finding the pathos of their stories – how much they did that they never thought they would do. There was a lot of adventure in their lives, and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to talk to women in very different settings so the other occupations I picked were executives in social service agencies, artists, and women who were running their own family businesses. I also wanted to include women of color so 10 of the 40 participants were women of color.

SF: What was the age range of these people?

CG: The age range was 45 to 55; they’re part of the baby boom generation. These women were at the front edge of graduating college having grown up in a culture that said, “You are going to get married, your husband should have a good career, you’ll have kids, you’ll stay home, and you’ll keep the floor clean.” Imagine standing on the brink – you’ve graduated college, you grew up thinking you’re going to get married and that was it, or maybe you thought that you were going to be a teacher and take time off when the kids were little. There were very few occupations that women ever anticipated, and then all of a sudden things were opening up, colleges that hadn’t been were becoming co-ed and people were wondering if women could do anything men could do. Would women be able to handle a career while taking care of the home and family? Because if a woman was not taking care of the home and family, something was wrong with her. There were a lot of people thinking it couldn’t be done. So it was an adventure, a challenge and a dare.

SF: Was the dare emanating from within them or from society?

CG: I think from both. The Carnegie Mellon Commission published a study in the late 60s on the status of women, and the conclusion was that we really don’t know how this is possibly going to work. There was tremendous uncertainty. We wanted to succeed and have all this excitement, but we were afraid too – afraid of what we might lose, afraid of failing, and afraid of being alone.

Imagine a map. On one side of the map there’s a highway with cars zooming along, and they’re all being driven by men. On the other side there’s a neighborhood street, and the homes are all inhabited by women. There’s a huge territory in between. You thought you were going to go on the neighborhood street and your husband was going to go on the super highway. Now, how are you going to make some kind of path through that territory in between that bridges both? The women in this generation had to invent a new kind of adulthood for women.

SF: What did you discover about how they somehow managed to find their own road to travel?

CG:  One of the important findings is that there is an incredible amount of diversity in how women organize their lives. One of the women I talked to had kids when she was in high school, got married, and was on welfare. Another woman I talked to had adopted kids when she was 40. One woman found her career when she was a child. Another woman finally found something that she loved when she was 50. That’s very different from the way men’s lives had gone. Men’s lives were linear and predictable – you knew when you were on track and when you were off track.

SF: So did you find patterns in what you observed about these life stories?

CG: Yes, I did. Initially, I made the mistake of first looking to see what everyone did in her 20s, 30s, 40, etc. and I found that that just didn’t work at all. What eventually saved the day was to look more in terms of what are the important tasks and dilemmas that the women shared even though they may have encountered these tasks and dilemmas in different ways and at different times.

SF: What were those developmental challenges? What is the quest all about?

CG: One was a task having to do with authority, and the dilemma was independence versus dependency. At the time the idea was that a woman needs to find a man to take care of her. The dilemma was how am I going to make my lifestyle and survive? Am I going to take care of myself, or do I need to find someone who will take care of me? Another central task has to do with relationships. The dilemma was, especially for women, if I’m in a relationship, I’m expected to take care of that person, so how do I reconcile my responsibility to myself with my responsibility to others? A third issue was achievement and vocation. Am I going to be ambitious and pursue my work goals, or do I need to be flexible and follow a husband? Then there’s the issue of putting the pieces together in life. What pieces am I going to select, what commitments am I going to make, how am I going to put that package together?

SF: You also determined from your analysis of these women’s lives that there were different strategies that people used to resolve these questions, particularly the last question of how to make choices that are well informed and that are congruent with one’s values. Could you tell us what those three main strategies were?

CG: One was Prioritize and Limit. For people who know what their priorities are, they pick a small number and say, “I will do without the other things. I need to really devote myself for life to this vocation, this calling, this art, whatever it may be.” Another, I call Sequencing: “I can have everything, but I can’t have it all at once. There are three things that I want to do. I will let them take turns.” The third I call Add and Delegate: “I am not going to be told by someone else when I can do what I want to do. I am going to have everything that I really want, although I recognize I can’t do it all myself – I will delegate and share the overflow at work and at home.

SF: What are the pros and cons of each one?

CG: Prioritize and Limit is especially wonderful for women who know that they care very deeply about one or two things in life and that they can do without some of the other things. Being able to combine two things instead of feeling like they are competing with each other is particularly wonderful. The pitfall with Prioritize and Limit comes if, in fact, you don’t want to do without those things that you gave up.

The Sequencing approach works especially well with commitments that have a natural ebb and flow. For example, with children, you know that they are going to get older and need you less, so there could be a confined time in your life when you’re devoted to them, and then a time will come when you will be freer to do other things. It’s helpful when you have the control you think you have, and you’re able say to yourself, “I’m going to do X until I’m satisfied, then I’ll turn my attention to something else.” The risk with sequencing is not having enough time. Something that you postponed may be lost, because it was postponed. The joy is that if you are able to have the pieces that you want, you can invest as much as you want into them in turn.

The Add and Delegate approach is really the hardest for the women that I talked with. The benefits are having a very full life and a very full cup, but the pitfall is that if you add another drop, the cup will run over. It becomes too much – you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not satisfied with the attention that you’re paying to anything, you feel guilty, you’re not enjoying all the things that you wanted.

SF: As you look at the body of your work, do you have a recommendation about which path or strategy works best?

CG: No, and the reason is that the best path is the one that suits you and is the best for the way your life is at present. You need to look at the three strategies and see what resources you have to make each one of them work. It’s not that you’re standing apart from your life and making a calculation. It’s thinking really hard about what you are okay with giving up and what matters to you at this stage in your life. A lot of times women have changed their strategy – it’s certainly not an issue of choosing one strategy for life.

SF: Which is the path that you chose?

CG: I chose Add and Delegate. My husband and I made it clear at the beginning of our marriage that we wanted an equal partnership. The partnership at home was very important for me to be able to add what I wanted when I wanted.

SF: Which of the people you interviewed to your estimation turned out to be the most gratified with their lives?

CG: Each of the three strategies had people who were thrilled, each of the strategies had a few people who weren’t thrilled, and each of these three strategies had a few people who ended up changing their strategy and making their life better. It’s a continual process of self-discovery.

Gersick is preparing a series of articles on women’s adult development, based on the life histories of 40 women leaders in business, social services, and the arts. She has also written a piece titled “Careers Outside the Narrow Path” for the Wharton Work-Life Integration Forum. To learn and read more about her research, please email BusinessRadio@siriusxm.com to be put in touch with Gersick.

Tune in to Work and Life on Tuesday, March 18 at 7 PM Eastern on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Erica Dhawan (W’07), Founder and CEO of Cotential, about how to harness the power of people at work, and Allison Karl O’Kelly, Founder and CEO of Mom Corps, about women and work. Visit Work and Life for a schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Alice LiuAlice Liu is an undergraduate senior studying Management at The Wharton School and English (Creative Writing) at the College of Arts & Sciences. 

Having a Baby While in B-School and More

Contributor: Alice Liu

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 PM EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community and the private self.

On Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with current Wharton MBA students about how young women are thinking about their careers, families and future lives.

In the second segment, Friedman spoke with Kristina Milyuchikhina (WG ’14) and Meaghan Casey (WG ’15), about what it’s like to start a family while in business school and the importance of choosing a partner who not only shares parenting care, but also shares the same values and ambitions.  Following are edited excerpts of Milyuchikhina and Casey’s conversation with Friedman.

Stew Friedman: Kristina, I’d like to start with your story. Unlike the other three students, you just gave birth last semester. How did you actually make it work here at Wharton?

Kristina MilyuchikhinaKristina Milyuchikhina: When I got into the Wharton MBA program, I was recently married and one of the important questions for me was to decide whether school fit in my plans to start a family. After discussions with my husband, we agreed that we would try to do both. I was able to leverage the University of Pennsylvania’s amazing medical facilities, an insurance plan that covers maternity, and the course match system at Wharton which allows you to construct your perfect schedule.

SF: Was the birth scheduled so that you were able to control the timing?

KM: It was a natural birth so it wasn’t scheduled, but it happened during fall break when I was done with finals. I missed only two classes, and I was back to school the next day.

SF: What was it like coming back to the classroom two days after giving birth?

KM: Profile Photo MeaghanWell my friends at school were shocked, but they were very welcoming. But it’s not only about support, it’s also about preparation. For example, getting into business school is a long process, and you have to prepare for it. In many ways, starting to have a family is a similar process, and you can prepare yourself for it as well. I did an enormous amount of research. I researched everything from facilities to logistics to apartments. I was plenty ahead in my course load. I was working with the MBA Program Office to get them ready to help me collaborate with professors if I missed any classes.

SF: So you really took control of those things that could be controlled.

KM: Exactly. Often in life when you see something happen easily, there is usually a huge amount of preparation standing behind it. That was my case.

SF: Meaghan, what brought you here to business school?

Meaghan Casey: I didn’t originally intend on pursuing a career in business. I am really motivated by social impact work, and for the past two years I worked with social impact entrepreneurs and non-profits in Washington D.C. and India. I came to business school because I really wanted to gain some of the skills and education that I felt could help make me credible so that I could more effectively continue living my purpose.

SF: What do you mean by living your purpose? What is your purpose?

MC: I think right now my answer to that is I would love to work in organizational development. I did management consulting for three years and then social impact for two years so I saw the very different work environments first hand.  I experienced very female-empowered to very male-dominated, and from very stressful and chaotic to very inspirational. Most recently, the entrepreneurs I had been working with had designed value-driven businesses where everyone from the bottom to the top of the organization was passionate about and empowered by their work. I thought to myself, “When I go to business school in the next two years, how can I learn to create a positive and productive workplace where people really feel empowered?”

SF: What are you being exposed to here at Wharton that helps you see the possibilities for greater freedom of opportunities for both men and women in the workplace?

KM: The Wharton MBA experience has been life-changing for me. The exposure to the tools, professors, and knowledge here is the best in the world. I’m focusing on three majors, because I realize that in the area where I want to be successful and create impact – corporate business development and strategic development – I have to be able to understand so many distinct issues that move businesses. Wharton is the perfect place to gain this kind of knowledge as well as the tools that will allow me to create change.

SF: Meaghan, as you think about your own personal future, what do you think about the “shared care” model – having women and men share responsibilities in their partnership?

MC: I love it. I think it’s fantastic, and I also think that more men should feel more confident and empowered to be advocates of shared parenting.

SF: How do we get there?

MC: I think leading by example is always effective, so I’d call on fathers – no matter where they are in their children’s development – who are holding back from developing stronger relationships with their wives or their children to let themselves step into that role and let it be known at their companies how they are integrating their work and their life. I think women do a great job role modeling this all the time, and many men do too, but I think that they can take a stronger stage.

SF: Kristina, is it a shared-care model with you and your husband? How do you manage this?

KM: First of all, it starts from the beginning. He is a partner at his company and was able to negotiate his relocation to Philly. That was step number one, because to have a little kid at Wharton without the support of your husband or in a long-distance relationship would be very tough and not realistic. He was also able to negotiate flexible work hours – sometimes he works from home, and that works out very well. The key here is to pick your life partner wisely, because while picking a career and a business school is great, we spend our lives with our families. It really is a very important choice.

SF: This is something that Sheryl Sandberg advocates – that the most important career decision you can make is who you marry.

KM: Exactly. That’s why it should be a person who shares your values, desires, and ambitions, and who also wants to have it all while you’re still young and strong. Someone who is willing go through some sleepless nights to get your family to where you both want it to be.

MC: I think you’re spot on. I think Jessica DeGroot, the radio guest from last week, said start the conversation early on in a collaborative way, talking through what kind of life do we want to build together as partners, what kind of family do we want to have, and how are we going to make time for our relationship and our family in a mutually beneficial way.

SF: What do you hope the world will look like by the time your newborn son is your age?

KM: I hope that by that time there will be more awareness for women who want to have healthy families and healthy careers to be able to combine both. For example, like me, women can consider starting families while in a top MBA program. I hope that there will be more support, not only on the side of their partners, but also on the side of business schools as well. I hope that by that time we will have the most talented women applying for business schools and not sacrificing their ambitions because of their fears that they will not be able to fit family in later on.

MC: I’m very inspired by Kristina’s story. Knowing that she’s been able to do both is the biggest sign of changing times. I think that the more people that integrate work and life successfully and the more normalized it becomes, the better off we’ll be in achieving 50/50 – the best talent coming from both men and women in corporate America.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday, February 25 at 7 PM on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Deika Morrison (W ’94, WG ’08) and Jerry Jacobs, Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania,about work and life in different labor markets. Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Alice LiuAlice Liu is an undergraduate senior studying Management at The Wharton School and English (Creative Writing) at the College of Arts & Sciences. 

Wharton Women on Hopes for a 50/50 World

Contributor: Alice Liu

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 PM EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community and the private self.

On Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with current Wharton MBA students about how young women are experiencing and thinking about their careers, families and future lives.  In the first segment, Friedman chatted with Nohemie Sanon (WG ’15) and Pamela Freed (WG ’14) about how they perceive the current role of women in business schools and in the workplace as well as what they hope to see change in the future.

Following are edited excerpts of Sanon and Freed’s conversation with Friedman.

Stew Friedman: What prompted you to come to the Wharton School?

Nohemie Sanon:Nohemie Sanon For me it was about career progression. I was at a certain level in my career where I was ready to make the next move, and I wanted to make sure that I had the best education possible to help me get to that next level.

Pamela Freed: I knew that I wanted to go to business school ever since I was an undergraduate. My father had gone to business school and seeing how much it helped his career really influenced me. After three years of working at JP Morgan after college, I started to feel like my career was going well, but I knew that business school would help accelerate it.

Pamela FreedSF: Who are the important people – the key sponsors or mentors – who have influenced you and helped you get here?

NS: The key influencers would definitely be my mom, my family, and also mentors at work, such as my boss and other colleagues who really wanted to push me to make sure that I attained that next level.

PF: My parents definitely had a big influence. In particular, I think that my mom had probably a bigger influence on me than anyone else. She had a long career working in media, and growing up, I watched her passion for her work and how it gave her drive. That was really inspirational for me, and I always knew that my career would be something that would be very important in my life.

SF: What was the most surprising thing to you when you got here. 

NS: I was struck by the ratio of men to women. The class of 2015 has about 42% women, and I was excited to find that number so surprisingly high. As you walk through the halls of this school you don’t feel like it’s 42%, you actually feel like it’s 50/50.

PF: I think I was surprised by how much I learned outside of the classroom. One of the most rewarding things for me has been the extracurricular opportunities. I’ve been fortunate to serve as co-president of Wharton Women in Business this year, and I’ve learned far more from that than any class I’ve taken. As Nohemie mentioned, Wharton has 42% women, which is more than any other top business program, so the women’s community here is very strong.

SF: How has that particular experience shaped your thinking about the future?

NS: I think it’s not only very inspiring, but it also gives me hope that more women will eventually rise to the top of the ladder in a variety of industries. It’s a big signal to me that it’s possible for women to achieve that level.

PF: At Wharton, there’s definitely a sense that women are equal to men. You see just as many women participating in class as men. Women are receiving academic honors at the same rate as men and are going on to as good careers as the men here are. We’re equals while we’re at Wharton, I’ll be interested to see what happens when we leave Wharton, and how my male and female peers perceive their treatment in the workplace.

SF: The ratio of women at the top of organizations is not nearly the same as it is at the entry level. What do you see happening within companies today that is really going to make a difference in changing this gender inequality?

PF: I hope that companies will be able to implement more policies to help women find ways to stay, particularly after they have families. At Bain & Company for example, they have very flexible work policies – flextime and sabbaticals – for women who have had children, and they claim that 80% of women who are partners have taken advantage of some of these flex policies. If over time companies are able to roll out more flexible policies and make it the norm to take advantage of these programs, then hopefully more women will be inspired to stay.

SF: And are you optimistic or pessimistic about that?

PF: I’m definitely optimistic. I see senior female role models that I can aspire to be like someday.

SF: That’s so important to have people you can look up to and say, “Yes, she did it. Therefore, I can do it too.” Nohemie, was this an important consideration when you thought about your summer plans?

NS: Yes. Throughout the time that I was recruiting I’ve met all different kinds of women who made it a point to tell me about the infrastructure set up to support working mothers – for example, a facility where you can bring your child in the morning and then see them at lunchtime. It’s also incumbent on us as women throughout our careers to lean in and open ourselves to opportunities as they reveal themselves to us, especially after we have our children and raise them. Very often we tend to not accept and not be willing to step into available new roles.

SF: Why do you think that is? Why do you think women hold back from opportunities to advance their careers?

NS: Maybe, because of fear of not being able to provide for their family in the way that they want to. You want to be there for your family not only financially, but also emotionally, and you may hold back from opportunities because you’re afraid that you’ll miss important things like your children’s recitals.

SF: Is it different for men and women at Wharton? Do you travel in different worlds?

PF: I don’t really think it’s that different for men and women here. I think that Wharton is a very equal place and if anything I think that women may have an advantage here, because we do have Wharton Women in Business and all that it provides. All 700+ women at Wharton are automatically members. We do many things – we bring thought leaders to campus, we have workshops to help women with negotiations and communication, we have connections with alumnae, we have an annual conference with more than 400 attendees, and we even have social events such as golf workshops to make sure that women will be able to keep up with men in the workplace. Men are invited to many of these things but generally you see more women taking advantage of these offerings so I think that’s something that makes the women’s community very strong.

SF: As you dream about your future, what’s the most important change that you want to see happen in the world over the next 15-20 years?

PF: Something that Debora Spar, the president of Barnard College, talked about at a recent Wharton Women in Business event is the expectation that women place on themselves for perfection – a perfect career, a perfect family, a perfect life. I hope that in the future women will feel s less pressure to do everything perfectly.

SF: How might men help with this goal?

PF: I think Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter both emphasize the importance of partners and making sure that each partner is sharing the housework and sharing in child raising, for example. It’s important that both partners are part of the conversation about how each can each integrate work and life.

SF: What about you, Nohemie? What do you wish to see change in the next 15-20 years?

NS: I would agree with Pam, and I would also add that I wish to see a world where women allow themselves to be more involved in their careers if they so choose and also more involved at home if they so choose.

SF: What’s the one thing we could be doing at this school to make that happen faster?

NS: I think that women as a community could encourage other women to take a bigger role in their careers and/or at home.

PF: I would love to see more men joining these conversations, attending more Wharton Women in Business events, and talking about integrating work and life and how men can help women get ahead.

Visit the Forum tomorrow for the second segment of Stew’s conversation with current Wharton MBA students, Kristina Milyuchikhina (WG ’14) and Meaghan Casey (WG ’15), about what it’s like to start a family while in business school and the importance of choosing a partner who not only shares parenting care, but also shares your values and ambitions.

Join Work and Life next Tuesday, February 25 at 7 PM on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Deika Morrison (W ’94, WG ’08) and Jerry Jacobs, Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania,about work and life in different labor markets. Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Alice LiuAlice Liu is an undergraduate senior studying Management at The Wharton School and English (Creative Writing) at the College of Arts & Sciences. 

How to Avoid Maxing Out — Conversation with Katrina Alcorn

Contributor: Morgan Motzel

On Work and Life, Erin Owen, as guest host for Stew Friedman, spoke with Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink.  Following are excerpts of Alcorn’s conversation with Owen:

Erin Owen: How we can have work that is compatible with having a healthy, enjoyable personal life?

Katrina AlcornKatrina Alcorn: Businesses have an incredible opportunity to create desperately needed change in the American workplace. Employers need to start looking at how to empower their employees with more autonomy. I know from having been a manager that this idea can be really scary. You might feel, for example, as though your job is to make sure that everyone is in their seat and working hard. But that’s not necessarily the best way to go about it.  Just seeing someone present in the office doesn’t mean we’re getting the most out of our employees, nor does babysitting them mean we’re being good managers. One interesting new management strategy is the high-performance or results-oriented work environment. The idea is that you can empower employees – whether they are knowledge workers or people who work on a factory floor – to make the best decisions and do the best job that they can. In this model, employees have control, instead of the boss is telling everyone what to do. When people are empowered and have real responsibility, they find their work is a lot more meaningful. It’s also great for morale because no grown-up wants to be babysat.

EO: This implies a culture shift that affects every level of an organization and gives employees more responsibility to make decisions.

KA: That’s right.  And the other side of freedom is holding them accountable. It’s not just about showing up. It’s not about how many sick days you took.  It’s about holding yourself accountable to doing the best job you can do.

EO: Are you suggesting that having a more meaningful work will translate to having a more healthy and enjoyable personal life?

KA: It’s not as though we become one person when we step into the office and a different person when we go home, although sometimes it may feel that way. We are one person with one life, no matter what we’re doing. Part of our growth involves bringing our humanity to everything we do and not turning it off when we’re at the office. Our humanity makes us good at our jobs.

I started in a managerial role after my first child was born. At the time, I was just learning how to manage people, and I started noticing all the ways that being a mother actually made me a better manager of adults. It wasn’t that I was mothering them, but I found that being a mother taught me to put my ego in check. Being a mother also helped me learn how to rise above conflict and to be the one to help people come to resolution without holding grudges. Things about motherhood translate back to your work in wonderful ways.

EO: That’s just one more reason for employers to want to bring parents back into the work force after a parental leave.

KA: That’s right. Another important thing for employers to think about is productivity. Americans now work the longest hours and have least time off compared to workers in any other country. We think this is part of what makes us so productive, but the research is showing that – while it may be counter-intuitive – working less can actually make us more productive. When we consistently work long hours, for example, we actually can go into what is called a “negative productivity cycle.” Employees are so overworked that they are sitting in meetings but it’s as if they’re not even there, or at least that their brain isn’t. People are making decisions, but they are often bad decisions because they’re just so exhausted. Having employees working really long hours doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re more committed or that they’re doing a good job.

EO: You’re saying that, as a manger, I need to empower my employees to make their own decisions. Next, they need to work less.  Isn’t this a danger to economic performance?

KA: Research shows that long hours kill productivity, profits, and people. The author of a summary of cited 150 years of research, including studies spanning multiple industries over decades, which showed that when you work more than 50 hours per week, things start to go wrong.

EO: We talked about ways to cultivate more meaningful work so that it can be compatible with a healthier personal life, from the employers’ perspective. How about from the employees’ point of view? What can we do as individuals?

KA: One of the things I’ve been told I need to work on is learning to say no and how to set good boundaries. I know there are tons of people like me who are also people-pleasers and who also find it hard to say no to people. I want to say yes. It’s a practice that I have to constantly keep in mind. For example, I just got an email today asking parents to chaperone a field trip at my kids’ school. I try to chaperone lots of field trips because that’s one way in which I can really help out.  Plus my kids love it and I really enjoy it. This time I ignored it because I have a meeting that day. But then the school sent out an email saying, “please, please, please, we’re going to have to cancel it!” I had this feeling that I just have to say yes. But then I thought about how impossible my week was going to be if I took a half-day out to do this. Sometimes I do have to say no, and it doesn’t always feel good. And the “no” extends to work issues too, not just life issues.

EO: You really need to be clear about what’s best for you, what helps you be healthier, more present, and more focused in all parts of life.

KA: Exactly. I think what we need to do is start really valuing our physical health and our mental health in a new way. Everyone feels stress, and that’s a normal part of life, but we all know when we’re crossing the line or when it’s just too much. The truth is that no one is going to advocate for you, especially in the workplace, but even in your personal life too. Only you are going to do that, and if you don’t do it no one will. We have an obligation to take ourselves seriously and really look at what we need in order to make sure our life is healthy, enjoyable, and meaningful.

Katrina Alcorn is the author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink. She is also a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post as well as her personal blog “Working Moms Break” which can be found at www.workingmomsbreak.com. To learn more about Katrina, visit her website at www.kalcorn.com.

Tune in to Work and Life next Tuesday, February 18 at 7 PM Eastern on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversation with the Wharton Total Leadership Mentor corps on that work for improving performance in all parts of life. Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Morgan MotzelMorgan Motzel is an undergraduate junior in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business at Penn focusing on Management and Latin America.

Giving Equal Footing So Everyone Can Perform and Succeed — Deborah Epstein Henry on Work and Life

Contributor: Morgan Motzel

Work and Life is a two-hour radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by Wharton. Every Tuesday from 7 pm to 9 pm EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community, and the private self (mind, body and spirit).

Deborah Epstein HenryOn January 21, the second episode of Work and Life on Sirius XM’s Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School, Stew Friedman spoke with Deborah Epstein Henry, an internationally recognized expert on workplace restructuring, talent management, work-life integration, and the retention and promotion of lawyers, with a focus on women. Henry is a sought-after consultant and speaker for audiences both inside and outside the legal profession. In her work both as a writer and an entrepreneur, Henry is striving to develop new employment models to improve the way professional services firms and clients interact and create shared value.

Following are edited excerpts of Henry’s conversation with Friedman.

SF: Debbie, could you tell us a bit about the company you founded, Flex-Time Lawyers, and how it works?

DEH: It may help to give you a little context on how it evolved. It was very auto-biographical. I was practicing as a litigator in Philadelphia 15 years ago, and found that, as a working mom of two, I was really struggling with how to play an integral role in my kids’ lives while also being successful on partnership track at my law firm. When I spoke with other women professionals, I found that they were struggling with the same thing.  So 15 years ago I sent an email to six lawyers I knew saying, “I’m going to start a group focused on work-life issues for lawyers.  Forward the invite to anyone you know who’s interested.” Within a few days, 150 people responded.

SF: What did they say?

DEH: They said, “We need to be a part of this, and thank you for bringing this to the fore.” And it was really at that moment, as a third-year associate being flooded by these emails, that I knew that I had struck a nerve. I started running events in Philadelphia on different work-life issues. And the subject also morphed into different women’s issues, given the largely female audience. That’s how Flex-Time Lawyers; as a networking and support group for lawyers interested in work-life issues.  But after three years of running it pro-bono on the side as a litigation associate, I ultimately turned it into a consulting practice. Working with companies, law firms and non-profits in the U.S. and Europe on different work-life and women’s issues took off from there.

SF: You’re talking about both leaning in as individuals — learning the skills and developing the support to be able to progress, particularly as a woman, in a hierarchical situation or setting that has traditionally not been supportive — as well as making structural changes in organizations. Let’s say we’ve got a small law firm somewhere in the Midwest that wants to make its organization more attractive and hospitable for men and women. What’s the first couple of things that organization should be doing?

DEH: There’s a multitude of things that can be done, but the first advice I would provide to this firm is: any change you want to make in terms of making the environment more hospitable must be linked to the business. It must be linked to the higher deliverable of revenue and an economic benefit, because these are not charitable organizations, and good will is terrific, but unfortunately people really need to be convinced by their pocket book that they’re going to get a return on this. For example, clients are really pushing back about the billable hour model because the way the billable hour is structured, the more money a firm earns, the more a client loses. The conflict is that when a law firm bills a lot of hours on a case that is a disadvantage to the client – that means more money the client is paying. So you have a structural model where a client and a law firm’s interests are in direct conflict, which makes no sense at all. What I would talk to this firm about is looking at other ways to bill clients so that clients would improve their satisfaction and in turn potentially give more business to the firm.

SF: How could they change their billing from billable hours, which is what everybody knows and everybody complains about?

DEH: They could develop alternative fee structures, which is something that clients are demanding. That means lawyers would be valued based on quality of work, results and efficiency, as opposed to hours logged. That would benefit the client-law firm relationship, and in turn would also benefit the lawyers, because they would no longer be judged on the hours they log, but instead they would be valued on what they should be valued on.

SF: So what’s your dream? How would you like to see things evolve in the legal world in 20 years?

DEH: My biggest goal is two-fold: one is to make alternative ways to practice law the mainstream – to have a greater variety of options out there so that a lawyer can be successful outside of the linear, traditional, equity partner track. On the individual level, to have different ways to evaluate success. On the employer level, it’s really a reciprocal goal, to have different models that service client relationships, and move away from the traditional way of billing clients for services. It’s really unpacking the employment model and providing variety there, but also refocusing the career path and saying there are many ways to practice law in a fulfilling way, having individual satisfaction but also delivering better legal services to clients.

SF: What’s the first question the managing partner of a law firm or an in-house counsel needs to be addressing in order to start to create a model that works better?

DEH: The question for both is, “Am I running a business that is giving equal footing to everyone to perform and succeed?” More often than not, the answer is no, and then the next question is really, “What structural changes do I need to evaluate in order to make the environment one where everybody can thrive?” Doing that is going to mean increased revenue for the business – it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s actually economically the beneficial thing to do.

Debbie’s book Law and Reorder: Legal Industry Solutions for Restructure, Retention, Promotion & Work/Life Balance focuses on the needs of legal employers, lawyers, and law students, helping them to understand the new legal world of productivity and work-life integration.

Debbie is also the Founder of Flex-Time Lawyers, offering advisory, training, and speaking services on the workplace and talent in the legal profession, and Co-Founder of Bliss Lawyers, providing businesses with legal services on a full-time or part-time secondment basis.

Join Stew next time on Tuesday at 7 pm on Sirius XM Channel 111 for conversations with Ellen Ernst Kossek and Brad Harrington on work/life interventions in organizations that improve both lives and the bottom line, and how Millennial Dads can lean in at home and win at work. Visit Work and Life for a full schedule of future guests.

About the Author

Morgan MotzelMorgan Motzel is an undergraduate junior in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business focusing on Management and Latin America.

Getting to 50/50: The Life-Changing Journey

Contributors: Joanna Strober and Sharon Meers

We are two working moms who believe that everyone wins when men are full parents and women have full careers. When both parents pay the bills and care for kids, this life is possible—we know from experience. In our homes, we don’t assume that Mom is destined to be the “primary parent.” Our kids see Dad as equal to Mom because we set it up that way. True, we did 100 percent of the breast-feeding and sometimes only we can make the monster under the bed disappear. But Dad loves parenting as much as we do—and he’s good at it, too. There is also no “primary breadwinner” among us. Mom and Dad are both on the hook for the costs of raising kids, from groceries to braces, from housing to soccer cleats. The payoff? We enjoy rewarding careers and see that our families thrive—not despite our work but because of it.

“Don’t you really need to choose? Won’t I need to pick which comes first, my work or my family?” We hear this often from women in their twenties on campuses where we speak. (We rarely hear it from young men.) And even when young women are more hopeful, there’s a big disconnect between what they hear (you’re equal) and what they see. “These issues creep up on us without our being aware of them,” one twentysomething told us. “I think women my age believe the world has changed so much that we don’t need to worry. But then we look at the men in charge where we work and think, That is not what I want my life to look like and it’s clearly not feasible for me if I want to have kids.

We remember the angst we felt at their age, that somehow things would be tougher for us than they were for our guy friends. At times in each of our own careers, we shared the fear that we’d have to forfeit something big—a career or a husband.

“I’ll never find the right guy if I can’t ever leave the office,” Joanna, then a lawyer in her first 24/7 job, complained to her mother. At her second corporate law firm, still unmarried but curious about the future, Joanna went to a meeting on work/life balance. The discussion leader, the only female partner with children, started to cry. Not inspirational. Joanna had grown up with a mother who mostly stayed home. So the discouraging signs around her at work did not give Joanna much conviction that she would want to keep working after she had kids.

Sharon, a child of divorced parents, assumed she’d always earn her own living. No man Sharon dated could miss the point. She grilled boyfriends for double standards and gave them books such as The Women’s Room and The Feminine Mystique—which largely went unread. Working stock-market hours in San Francisco, Sharon was in the office close to 4 a.m.—and asleep by 9 p.m., making her an even more unusual date. As she was turning thirty-one, Sharon walked down the street after work one day with tears in her eyes. “No marriage is better than a bad one,” she thought, “but how did I end up alone?”

Then we met our husbands and learned this: The most important career decision you make is whom you marry. (And the deals you make with him.)

When Joanna got engaged, her fiancé, Jason, told her he wanted to start companies. To take the risks that entrepreneurship requires, Jason knew that sometimes he would be putting more money into his business than he’d be taking out. When Joanna wanted to quit her job, Jason did his share of child care while Joanna transitioned to a career she found more satisfying than the law. Jason not only wanted to be a good father, he also knew Joanna’s income bought him freedom to pursue his own career dreams.

“Women are more nurturing and should stay home with kids for a few years,” Sharon’s future husband, Steve, said on their first date. That evening did not end well. But Steve, an Iowan raised with the virtue of fairness, was curious (and a good sport). So he asked Sharon to put her thoughts on paper. “I want my husband to share every part of parenting with me 50/50. How do you feel about this?” Sharon wrote. Steve wasn’t sure but kept an open mind until he and Sharon found a vision they could share.

We’re not saying it’s easy. Living this way takes lots of discussion and often debate. No matter how fair-minded your spouse, if you’re anything like us, you’ll still find plenty to argue about. But hundreds of men and women in this book tell you in their own words why they make the effort: The 50/50 mind-set can help you live the life you want.

About the Authors

Sharon Meersjoanna stroberSharon Meers is the Head of Enterprise Strategy at Magento, which is part of eBay Inc.  Prior to joining eBay, Sharon was a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs.  Joanna Strober is the Founder and CEO of an online company to help fight and prevent childhood obesity.  Together they have written Getting to 50/50 — How Parents Can Have it All.