In my previous post “When you look in the mirror, do you see an entrepreneur staring back at you?” I mentioned that most successful male and female entrepreneurs are in their forties. This comes from the great Kaufmann report, Anatomy of an Entrepreneur.
While this might give those of us in this age group a sense of comfort, knowing we have at least one thing working in our favor, the reality of what it means to be a woman in her forties often takes over.
The science of your emotions
If you haven’t read Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain and The Male Brain, I highly recommend both. Brizendine is a neuropsychiatrist whose research has made me start to question a lot of the status quos we take for granted in the business world.
For example, top talents are often in their 40s when they are earmarked for the C-Suite. Makes sense, right? By this time, you would have had some great exposure, built some solid leadership skills, and would have built a healthy network. It’s no surprise that successful entrepreneurs in the age group out number the other segments.
Here’s the problem, Brizendine’s research tells us that this is exactly the time period when women are experiencing biological changes combined with increasing personal priorities requiring significant flexibility and time.
Why women choose to opt-out
Brizendine’s research suggests that women take themselves out of the running for the C-suite while their male peers are left standing alone, ready for the plucking. In her 2008 HBR article, One Reason Woman Don’t Make it to the C-Suite, Brizendine wrote:
For reasons important to the survival of the species, women in child bearing years undergo changes that intensify their focus on the viability of their off-spring. It’s a passing phenomenon, but ill-timed for those with career-ambitions.
When our cups runneth over with any combination of drastic hormonal changes, teenage children who need us at any given time, and aging parents who are counting on us for elder care, it’s no wonder so many women chose to let their careers take a back-seat for a while.
Why you can choose to opt-in
Here’s the deal. It’s not all doom and gloom. Half the battle is knowing why you might be feeling overwhelmed and knowing that you are not alone. There are several practical steps you can take to find time in your week to work on your career and on your business. You do not have to wait.
Now that you know why you are feeling overwhelmed, what can you do opt-in to your career? What are some ideas that you have to combat the influences inside and outside of you? What has worked for you and what has not?
Your Turn: if you are in your 40’s (or not) does this sound familiar? Tell me about your experience. Leave a comment.
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