Two things emerged to me during my MBA at MIT Sloan School of Management. First, even academia was obsessed with studying why such few women are in engineering and executive positions and why venture capital and consulting industry had such few women in Partner positions. Especially at a technology and innovation focused business school, we often saw professors dissect the data they had been collecting over decades and generations to little to no difference. The only explanation offered was most women made a choice to prioritize family over career, indicating that success in both cannot coexist as two peaks of a mountain. This leads to the second point: there is no such thing as work-life balance – for women. In our thirties, we must sequence our focus or alternate with a high-intensity focus between our professional (or academic or career, whatever you choose to do outside the house and home), and family. I learned this listening to women leaders who came and spoke to a guest lecture hall of men and women in their thirties, aspiring to become a leader at the end of their MBA journey.
Fast forward to 2019, ten years since I graduated, the world is emerging to be a different place. Not levelled or equal opportunity, but different altogether for men and women. Technology and entrepreneurship and the Internet at large have allowed women to carve their two peaked mountains. Women lead businesses are growing and online support systems and resources are rushing in to create time, flexibility, and success for women. Breaking the barrier of corporate or bureaucratic careers, women are starting their own businesses and innovating, developing new products, writing software code, and finding business solutions, all while defining their own schedules – which really is at the crux of what women had to choose between a corporate or academic career and family priorities.
This does not make it any easier for women. Make no mistake. But neither is it easy for any man or woman to climb the corporate ladder or spend hours in a science lab or obtaining tenure at a top university. What entrepreneurship and digital resources have enabled is the possibility to choose to become a CEO and a mother as a woman in her thirties.
There are late nights and fundraising challenges and building a small business with all of the big company HR issues internally and externally, but it is possible to have a meaningful and impactful career while being available during the times that a young child or an ageing parent or spouse stressed out by corporate politics, needs you. And this holds true for both men and women; bringing the equilibrium by disrupting legacy practices – at work and at home.
This article has been contributed by Gitika Srivastava, Founder of Navya Network, which uses data and machine learning technology and online patient services solutions to improve cancer outcomes globally. Navya has a simple goal of reaching each and every cancer patient and empowering them with information and clarity when they are faced with the challenge of making complex medical decisions.