“You are not Superwoman. You can’t do everything. You don’t have to be the best.” These words of wisdom were shared by Ms Eve Ekman, author of “Mothers on the Fast Track”, a guide for young women facing the decision of when and if to start a family, at the second NUS Leadership Forum.
At her lunchtime talk, Ms Ekman explored the challenges facing women juggling the commitments of career and family. Why are men with kids more successful than women with kids? Why is it that the more elevated a woman’s job, the more likely she will divorce her husband? One of the root causes is what is called the “second shift”: in addition to holding down a job, women also bear the brunt of the housework, childcare and parental care giving responsibilities.
Part of the blame lies with women. They are good at these roles and do not want to relinquish them. At the same time, they are bad bargainers and do not ask for better rights at work to allow them to balance their dual roles. But, responsibility also lies with employers to introduce more family-friendly policies. Ms Ekman demonstrated how such policies at universities in the US have led to an increase in the number of women with children in senior roles.
Ms Ekman also shared the key lessons she has learnt from her research on how to balance motherhood and a career. These include: choose a partner wisely; maintain open communications with your partner; find a partner who is proud of your success; if you take time out from work, build up a network of contacts; learn how to ask for what you want and; find a mentor, either female or male.
The NUS Women’s Leadership Forum “Mothers on the Fast Track” was hosted by Capella Singapore in Sentosa and chaired by Mdm Kay Kuok, a member of the NUS Board of Trustees. The distinguished forum is designed to inspire support and showcase NUS’ contributions to the community, to Singapore and to the world through its students, alumni, faculty, research and global networks.
To register interest in the next NUS Women’s Leadership Forum, please email Grace Lam at firstname.lastname@example.org.