Swooning suavely sideways – spare me

Woman Power NGO

This week, Lucy Kellaway called on us all – but perhaps predominantly women given the focus of the piece – to “lean in to laziness”. Kellaway, having just caught up with a Uni friend, confidently guided us on doing less, not more, to succeed in business.  For years we’ve been told “work smarter not harder” and that doing things differently was preferable to just doing more. Cultivating the right kind of laziness if you will.

Replete with references to Helmuth von Moltke, global giant Bain and McKinsey research, at first glance, it appeared that there might be something to the suggestion.

Then I kept reading…

What at first seemed like supportive career advice deteriorated into the by-now horribly familiar genre of “women in the workplace assumptions”. Kellaway’s Uni friend had come to this hardly-unique conclusion having reportedly just fallen in love, wanting – as a result – to spend less time in work, favouring liaisons with her new beau.

So let’s get this straight, women want to work hard to progress our careers, harnessing our ambition – but only until we meet someone and swoon suavely sideways out of the office and off our career path.

Kellaway articulately describes how her friend has “been cured” of trying too hard, of her networking habit, and apparently of her many hours in the office.

What of the beau? Was he working as hard as normal (maybe he just “wasn’t that into” her), did he not care about his career or is it perhaps that he’d realised that “smarter not harder” was important for all sorts of reasons, love-life not withstanding?

Where I take issue is the framing of the piece… women are ambitious but apparently only until we revert to traditional “in love”, “wife” or “mother” roles – all-in, until we find something better to do with our time.

The front-and-centre assumption that go-getters who make sacrifices in order to succeed or who choose to invest in their work or career in favour of other things (beau’s included) or who (unlike Kellaway’s friend) are not in a position to delegate to underlings while still maintaining their senior position are what… Doing it wrong? Not smart enough to have figured out that work is fine until you fall in love? Invested in the “wrong” things?

Spare me.

When we simultaneously hear about the need to encourage more women into the workplace, while cultural references to “glass ceilings” aren’t purely the stuff of ironic throw-back, and when women are still judged for making non-traditional choices (cf: childless by choice) it might be reasonable to hope for a less stereotypical view.

If we are to encourage young women into STEM careers and have them participate fully in our oft-quoted knowledge economy, perhaps supporting an aspiration more inspiring than telling them to “hang in there until the right one comes along” would be more helpful?

At this stage, I’d even settle for something more accurate.

The women I know and respect, the ones who want to change the world, the ones who get up for 5am and spend the day wanting to break through walls and make a difference aren’t there by anything other than choice and don’t see it as in need of a cure.

So please, get with the programme or at the very least, get out of our way.

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About frimframworld

Total coffee fan, dedicated foodie & news hound. Strategic PR & political comms as a day job. All comments my own - blogging in a personal capacity only.

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