By Jennifer Cryder, CPA, Vice President - Operations
A few weeks ago I headed out of town to meet my two best friends from college. As we’re each busy trying to balance life in our respective cities as a wives and mothers with demanding careers, we only have the chance once or twice per year to catch up in a meaningful way. This time, it was a girls’ weekend in a warmer climate. These are the kinds of friends where no topic is off limits, with conversations all over the spectrum: from fun to deep and meaningful. As you’ll appreciate if you have these types of life-long friendships, the conversation just picks back up no matter how long it’s been since you’ve last spoken. I can’t emphasize enough the important role that these women have played in my life. Friends since business school, we’ve each navigated the twists and turns of careers in our respective industries, and each has succeeded and failed at various points. They’ve always been there to cheer me along when I’ve struggled, and they’ve believed in me when I have doubted myself.
In one of our more introspective conversations last weekend, we focused on the question of whether or not life was easier for women two or three generations back, when the choices they faced were much more limited than the choices faced by women today. As a group of women at the tail end of Generation X, we each admitted feeling overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of choices and options that lay in front of us. Each of us are successful and well educated, and as a result we feel some degree of pressure to balance life and work while making it all look picture perfect in our Facebook posts. We considered our grandmothers’ generation. While they may or may not have worked outside the home, family was clearly their primary responsibility – caring for the children, having a home-cooked dinner on the table, and keeping the house clean. For many in our grandmothers’ generation, the choice to have a meaningful and challenging career wasn’t relevant.
Our collective conclusion to this question was that maybe life was simpler and less exhausting a few generations back when the choices women had to make between family and career were less complex. Nonetheless, we each agreed that we embraced the challenges and trade-offs that come with the spectrum of choices women have today. We each agreed that we felt empowered and fulfilled by the range of options we face, and wouldn’t trade that for the simplicity we perceive of life a few generations back. That’s not to say that we each are choosing to put careers before family – in fact we are not. Choosing to work inside the home is just as meaningful a choice as choosing a career. As the mother of a 3-year-old boy, I know that most days I spend as PICPA’s CFO and vice president of operations are not as hard as the days I spend as mom. The point we agreed on as being most important is that it’s now up to us to choose what that right mix is, and we wouldn’t trade that ability to choose for anything. Nor would we underestimate the value of a support network in making those choices.
As I look around the accounting profession today, I’m so pleased to see that women are empowered to make these types of choices every day. I’m likewise pleased to see them giving support to one another, no matter what is landed upon as the right choice. Regardless of the generation, I think women have always excelled at building around themselves a support system. It’s certainly one of my keys to success, and I think it will remain relevant for all women as the choices they face today and in the future evolve.
And in case you’re wondering what we chose to do with our time during girls’ weekend, after concluding such a serious conversation, instead of heading out for the night and living it up we chose to order room service and watch a movie ... because we could.