I was reading the bio of Nancy Pelosi and what impressed me was that she is a mother of 5 kids who only really started working when her fifth child became a high school senior which happened in her late 40s and in less than 20 years became the most powerful woman in politics in the States. Yes, I know she had all sorts of connections but so do a lot of other people and frankly I think it is an amazing merit to start a career so late in life and to make it to the very, very top. She is a hope to all those women who are having kids in their 30s and think that their career is destroyed forever.

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euronerd on January 8, 2007  · 

Did she have a husband, during that motherhood period, and what did he do all that time?

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Twain on January 8, 2007  · 

I admire Pelosi’s perseverance, fortitude and good fortune.

Being allowed to work and reach the top depends on our partners. Some men feel extremely threatened by an adept woman (one who may be naturally brighter than he is) and he’ll engage in what could be called “subtle control” — i.e., he says things like: “Darling, it would be so great if we had dinner every night at six,” which means that she can’t work late. This makes life particularly difficult in banking if you have an important transaction to do and need to spend most of your time travelling — red-eye flights.

There are a lot of statistics on the number of female revenue generators in the banks who make family sacrifices and even forego marriage.

Of course, the alternative is to reach the top by your early thirties and then have children — OR NOT HAVE ANY AT ALL because he’s guaranteed to run off with random secretaries if you’re a workaholic anyway.

The entire “working mothers” debate is complex. Other factors are involved: corporate policy wrt. post-pregnancy positions, childcare provisions, hired help, and extended family members to babsysit.

Numerous studies attest that women who return to work after having a baby earn approx 30% less than they did before and are assigned to lower status roles.

Also, it depends on which sector and which role. Women who are administrators or who work in politics, education and health may find their careers largely unaffected by what is a natural human event: giving life.

For corporate women who do deals…babies are often the “kiss of death” for all their hopes and hard work to make CEO.

Why else do Catalyst and the Conference Board highlight the abysmal percentage of female board members in FTSE100, Nasdaq etc. companies? Why else do the diversity campaigns seek better post-pregnancy opportunities for women to break through the glass and silicon ceilings?

As you can tell I feel strongly about this issue. In my Utopia, a woman can have a happy family, be CEO of a FTSE100 company, sit on the boards of charities, paint and do a dozen other things that she wants to when she’s IN her 30s.

There are male CEOs who are allowed to do all these things (although…mostly this is because their wives don’t work, child-rear and support them 300% in the background).

Catherine Zeta Jones may have the right model. She’s married to someone twice her age who reached the top of his profession many years before, and is secure and loves her enough to support her.

It’s all to do with compatible partnership.

And most men — for all the talk of equality — prefer their partners to be less intelligent and less successful than them. It’s genetics. Men want to feel they are stronger and protectors.

That’s why they use subtle controls.

As a woman…it’s best generally to ignore those.

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