Many believe that a woman has to exhibit behavioral characteristics of a man to be effective in a “man’s world” of leading. And if you are visibly pregnant – forget it, you aren’t in the game. Depending upon your culture, this is “non-negotiable.”
My twelve year old daughter is a fan of Project Runway, a fashion design competition reality show. We watched the last segment together and I was pleasantly surprised they had four women judges who are currently or had been pregnant before, and all accomplished professionals in the fashion industry. The assignment was to make an outfit for Rebecca Romijn, a model and actress, who was carrying twins. She wanted it to be form fitting, allowing her to feel feminine and sexy with an expanding body.
Have we arrived? Despite the hype of reality TV, my daughter was given some positive messages: You can be creative, successful, sexy, a skillful businesswoman and be a mother. You don’t necessarily have to choose, hide or subvert one for the other. Let’s not gloss over this because it’s fashion and it’s easier “to be” this way. It’s still serious business – an industry that rakes in over $250 billion a year.
Yes, you can show your curves, your nurturing ability and make smart, saavy decisions in the board room depending on, or perhaps despite your chosen industry.
My daughter is growing up in a different world than my mother and me – and thank God. My mother was mandated to stop working when she was visibly pregnant. As a single parent of a toddler, occasionally I had comments insinuating I wasn’t that focused on my career because “how could I be?” When is a man confronted with this dualism: Life OR Career?
Hat’s off to Heidi Klum for celebrating her womanhood all while being an accomplished model, entertainer, artist, wife, mother and businesswoman with a firm presence. Our brains don’t dissolve just because we have smaller people we also care for… we can “make it work.”
Copyright 2009 Sage Leadership Strategies, LLC www.sagelead.com