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Women’s News: 5 Reasons Why Women Fear Career Failure (And Why We Shouldn’t)

Women’s News: 5 Reasons Why Women Fear Career Failure (And Why We Shouldn’t)

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Women’s News: The Truth About the Childless Life

Women’s News: The Truth About the Childless Life

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Women’s News: 5 Reasons Why Women Fear Career Failure (And Why We Shouldn’t)

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The Huffington Post  |  By 

Female entrepreneurs face plenty of obstacles, but, according to a new study, the biggest roadblock they face may be self-created.

Fox Business News reported that while fear of failure is a major concern for all entrepreneurs, researchers found that it disproportionately impacts women. Female study participants were “more likely to have lower perceptions of their entrepreneurial abilities than male business owners.”

But female entrepreneurs are hardly the only women who fear failure. Sheryl Sandberg identified the fear of failure as a major obstacle for women in Lean In and many women suffer from “imposter syndrome,” perpetually feeling like they don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved.

Here are five reasons why women across career fields fear failure — and why we need to put a stop to that fear — right from the mouths of women who have been there:

1. Women’s unique history of exclusion adds pressure not to fail.

A lot of women interpret our foremothers’ success in fighting for women to enter the workforce as an edict that we have to do everything — and do it perfectly. Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Valerie Jarrett recently revealed that she was one of those people. “We felt that the women before us, the trailblazers and the people who broke glass ceilings and the ones that demonstrated and litigated and everything — we thought that they did that in order that we would be able to compete with men and do everything that women traditionally did,” Jarrett revealed at The Huffington Post’s Third Metric Conference.

But the idea that because our ability to succeed at all is so relatively new means we can’t do anything but succeed is misguided, Jarrett said. “That wasn’t the lesson from the women before us. That’s not what they were fighting for. They were really fighting for us to make our own choices.”

2. Women define success differently — and thus what works for us may look like “failing.”

“We’ve all bought into this male definition of success, money and power, and it’s not working,” Arianna Huffington said on the “Today” show in June. “It’s not working for men, and it’s not working for women. It’s not working for anyone.”

Linda Descano, President and CEO of Citi’s Women & Co, agrees. In a June blog for the Huffington Post, Descano wrote about a study conducted by Citi and LinkedInthat showed that when asked how they define “having it all,” “money and power took a back seat to a strong, loving relationship, which 94 percent of respondents selected as a key component of their version of success.” Furthermore, 66 percent reported that having a job where their work was enjoyable and valued was also crucial. Only one in six of the female respondents identified reaching the top of their field — a generally identified proxy for success — as important.

Because women define success differently from men, what may look like “failing” based on a traditional, male-dominated model may really just be what’s right for an individual woman. In our eyes, personal fulfillment is exactly what we should see as success, whether or not it includes a corner office.

3. We’re taught to view success as a linear progression — and anything that deviates from that progression as failure.

At the Third Metric conference, Valerie Jarrett offered more words of wisdom, suggesting that career moves that might look like a step backward can actually be a step forward for women. Jarrett herself went from being a successful lawyer to a city government employee. “It took a lot of courage to basically walk away from the conventional knowledge of the track I should be on and go work for city government,” she told Huffington and Brzezinski at the conference. But, as she later told HuffPost Live, “From the very first day I moved in there, I knew that was where I belonged.”

4. We believe failure is permanent.

We all tend to view failure as a permanent experience, as something that ends one’s future, when in reality failure doesn’t have to define us, but can offer valuable lessons that lead us to success. In fact, plenty of successful women experienced failure before they went on to achieve incredible things. Arianna Huffington is one such woman who is no stranger to failure, and she has spoken out about the way embracing failure allowed her to reach the top of her field.

“My mother used to call failure a stepping-stone to success, as opposed to the opposite of success,” Arianna Huffington told Inc. Magazine earlier this year. “When you frame failure that way, it changes dramatically what you’re willing to do, how you’re willing to invent, and the risks you’ll take … In my own life, a key component of whatever successes I’ve had has been what I’ve learned from my failures.”

5. When women do experience failure, they try to hide rather than acknowledge it. This silence creates the myth that they are the only ones who have failed.

In June, Mika Brzezinski talked about how women have to stop trying to appear as if they are succeeding with ease at all times on HuffPost Live. She said:

Women, one of the things we do … is make everything look so easy. We’re supposed to be perfect. We’re supposed to be beautiful. We’re supposed to be thin. And it’s all supposed to come easy … And it isn’t. On every level. Trying to work, balance a family, succeed, make money, which should be as fundamentally important as everything else we do, it isn’t easy…We all need to have a true, honest conversation about not only the challenges we face but how we can help each other.

But while all of the aforementioned experiences are very real obstacles for many women, it’s vital that we overcome them — and taking risks might be the best way to do this, especially for women in business.

“The most important factor in determining whether you will succeed isn’t your gender, it’s you,” Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint once said. “Be open to opportunity and take risks. In fact, take the worst, the messiest, the most challenging assignment that you can find, and then take control.”

Barbara J. Krumsiek, President, CEO & Chair of Calvert Investments, Inc., also thinks that avoiding “trial by error” is a “career roadblock” for many women. She believes that instead of dwelling on our weaknesses which may lead to failure, we must be vocal about our strengths.

“I think it’s important for women to respect their resumes,” she was quoted as saying in Selena Rezvani’s book, Pushback: How Smart Women Ask-And Stand Up For What They Want. “I will try to weave into a conversation that I have math degrees or that I served on a national development team, for example … This is something we need to do skillfully; it’s not merely reciting our credentials and it’s not bragging either.”

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/career-failure-women_n_3690668.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

Women’s News: The Truth About the Childless Life

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Melanie Notkin

CEO Melanie Notkin Media, Inc/Savvy Auntie

Aashna, a single 43-year-old marketing director for an international jewelry designer, looked down at her glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with a familiar melancholy I’ve seen before. “I absolutely don’t want to have a baby on my own,” she said. “But I also can’t imagine never becoming a mother.” At age 39, Aashna broke up with a man she was not deeply in love with. She knew she was not only saying goodbye to him, but potentially to ever becoming a mother. “As much as I want to be a mom, I couldn’t marry a man I’m not in love with,” she said. “And now, I may never have kids.”

Joanna, a single 38-year-old attorney who left the partner track to move into the less demanding (and lower paying) role of legal marketing in order to attract men who did not find her profession competitive with theirs, is frustrated.

Here I am, almost 39, and I gave up so much potential in my career and frankly, in my income, just so that the men I dated no longer assumed that because I went to an Ivy League law school, I don’t want to be a mother. Now, not only am I heartbroken that I’m still single and not a mom, I regret taking a major step down in my career. People still call me a so-called ‘career woman’ as if I don’t have to work, and by taking myself off the partner track, I don’t even have a walk-in closet to show for it.

Jake, a 42-year-old single man in magazine publishing, knows what people think of him.

They assume I’m a player because I haven’t married yet,” he explained over drinks. “But I’m not a player at all. I want to be married and I really want to be a father. I just haven’t met that woman yet. Becoming a father is really important to me. I’ve even considered having a child with a friend, but in the end, decided to wait for the right relationship and have kids with the woman I love.

In my upcoming book, Otherhood (Seal Press / Penguin Canada, early 2014), I look at the unrequited love story of our generation. Aashna, Joanna and Jake are among composites of dozens of women and men I spoke with who want so much to be in love, married (or at the very least, in a committed relationship) before becoming parents.

However, the August 12, 2013 TIME Magazine cover story: “The Childfree Life: When Having It All Means Not Having Children,” presumes that the decreasing birthrate in America is mostly due to a choice by many modern American women and men to be childfree, i.e., to remain childless by choice. After all, with all the choices available to women — the gender the piece correctly identifies as the one that carries the brunt of societal negative attitudes towards childless people — it’s assumed by many that we’ve made childlessness a choice. “If you really want to be a mother,” I’ve been told, “you’d be a mother. Nothing stops modern women from becoming mothers if that is what they really want.” But at age 44, never-married, I still choose love over motherhood, as do most American women — and men.

The heartache over what I call our “circumstantial infertility,” childlessness due to being without a partner, is exacerbated by the inexhaustible myth that we have chosen not to be mothers — and fathers.

The CDC reports that of the 19% of women who remain childless between the ages of 40 and 44, half are childfree by choice. The remaining are unable to have children, by biology and by circumstance. (Note: some late-age biological infertility is a result of not finding a partner until one’s fertility in compromised by age, i.e., it is also circumstantial) In myexclusive 2012 interview with Gladys Martinez, PhD and author of the National Health Statistics Reports entitled “Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15-44 Years in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth,” Martinez explained that while 80 percent of unmarried women are childless, 81 percent of those women plan or hope to have children one day. Only 14 percent of all childless women are voluntarily childless, i.e. ‘childfree.’ About 5 percent are unable to have children. The rest intend to become mothers one day.

As the Time article reports, childless women are among America’s wealthier and more college-educated women. Unfortunately, that data helps propel the myth that we are too career-oriented, too self-centered and too selfish for motherhood. But what it doesn’t say is that we are also more likely to be married at the time of our first birth, late in our fertile years as motherhood may come. When a childless woman marries at age 35 or older, theCDC reports that these women have at least two children, surpassing the birthrate for all American women; the mean number of births to women ages 15-44 is 1.3, but for women who have a child between ages 40 and 44, the mean number of births jumps to 2.1.

Simply put, many childless American women over 35 are simply waiting for love before motherhood. And once they are in the right relationship, they quickly move into motherhood, usurping the average mother’s birthrate.

While, of course, there are women and men who do choose never to be parents, indeed a very valid choice, this group does not fully explain the declining American birth rate. So, what is the reality? The women of Generation X expected we’d have the social, economic and political equality our mothers did not have, but naturally, the husband and children then did. Only here we are, among the most well-educated, most successful women in America, wondering how our valid choice to be in the right relationship, to be in love before motherhood, has left us often single and childless as we near the end of our fertility.

As the Time article suggests, there is indeed what I call a mom-opia in America, an uber-focus on motherhood as if all women are mothers, or should be mothers, or can be mothers. For those in the Otherhood, those whose hearts break to be mothers, those who feel misunderstood and sidelined by those who assume their childlessness is due a lack of desire for children or a lack of maternal (and paternal) yearnings, there is a fallacy that must be overturned.

This is the truth about childlessness in America: most (not all) women — and men — desire to be parents. But love, commitment and the right partnership come first. We choose love over parenthood. It’s not an easy choice to make; we know the risk of waiting for love means we may become parents much later in life than expected, or, for some, never become parents at all.

In the meantime, we are childfull; we choose to fill our lives with the children we love likeour nieces and nephews and friends’ children. And we find other ways to ‘mother.’

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Melanie Notkin’s second book, Otherhood, lightly based on some of her posts here on Huffington Post Women, will be released in early 2014 by Seal Press and Penguin Canada.

Melanie Notkin is the national bestselling author of Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids(Morrow/HarperCollins)

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-notkin/the-truth-about-the-childless-life_b_3691069.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

A Message From The Creator

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