Fortune published its list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business last week. The big news seemed to be that Oprah wasn’t on the list this year. She must be heartbroken. Sigh.
The other news is that there are now 21 women CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. That’s up from 2 fifteen years ago. Let’s see, 0.4% to 4.2% in 15 years. That’s not much progress. I started to get really mad. I went looking for my righteous, feminist flag to unfurl.
Then I wondered how many professional basketball players there are. It’s 450. There are 750 major league baseball players, and 1,696 pro football players. So even if you are a guy, your chances of being a professional athlete are better than becoming a Fortune 500 CEO.
Those 500 CEOs are an elite group of people who have the magic combination of luck, training, pedigree, and connections. Then, they had to work hard and really want to deal with the power, politics, and fierce competition to get there.
Most women don’t have time for that crap. We are way too busy.
About 60% of women work “outside the home,” and 100% work in it. Even those of us with helpful and enlightened partners do the bulk of errands, housework, and child tending/driving/feeding/homeworking/caring. In other words, women spend more time working because we do our jobs, then we have a bunch of other things to take care of too.
Why is that? Because it works. Because women are absolutely amazing creatures. Because when everyone works, there’s just more to do.
Even so, many of us have delayed having kids to pursue a career. I had my first son at 36 and my second at just under 40. After a couple years of being a partner in a law firm, I quit. I decided if I was going to volunteer extra time toward the success of those around me, it was going to be for my kids, not my partners.
I quit my marriage too. I had set up similar relationships. I was also falling apart. I just could not do it all.
I am still trying to figure out how to get the balance right. I think we all are.
Mostly, I have learned I would rather do great work than run a company, even a small one. I simply do not have the patience, competitive drive, or sheer love of titles, money, and power that it takes to run a large company, especially a public one. I also have extremely low weasel tolerance, which disqualifies me right there.
I believe there’s a lot wrong with how we run our businesses, country, and legal system. I don’t think the solution is for women to do more of what men have been doing. For myself, I don’t want to. And just maybe, that’s why there aren’t more women running huge corporations.
To the women who are, I am curious to know if you enjoy it. What are your relationships with your spouse and friends like? Are your kids doing okay? Would you choose to do it again? Are you happy?
I could not have done it. And that’s okay.
So, congratulations to the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and the 21 Women Fortune 500 CEO’s.
I am happy.