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Work-Life Balance from Joan Lewis

Michelle Andre

October 27, 2017

From Joan Lewis, WIRe October 2017 Office Hours Host:

In WIRe’s October Office Hours, a community member posted a question about work-life balance, something that comes up very frequently in conversations about women’s careers and women in leadership. As you probably know, this issue is not the immediate question in groups that are mostly men. This difference defines our challenge – work/life balance is mostly “a women’s issue,” which means we are already at a huge disadvantage in the business world. Nearly all the of the effort of the “life” part of work-life balance falls to the women in heterosexual couples – providing and negotiating child care, managing household chores, making doctors’ appointments, arranging social engagements, providing for needs of aging parents, arranging babysitters, buying birthday cards . . . the list is literally endless. There have been a lot of articles recently that finally identify this “emotional labor,” which I encourage everyone to read, but most of us have known this for years. (On a separate point, I cannot believe the people writing about this decided to call it “emotional labor.” It’s just LABOR! It’s not serving anyone’s “emotions,” it’s just meeting the basic expectations of an adult! Unfortunately, crystallizing this as “emotional” just cements the associate that women are supposed to do it.)

The article below tackles a different issue, though, that I think is even more important – the choice of who a women marries has a huge impact on whether she is successful in her career, or not. Women are assumed to enable their husbands’ careers; men often believe they are “supportive,” but they are not making any compromises or changing their behavior to enable their wives’ careers. I disagree with the headline that implies there may be a choice between having a career or a life partner, but marrying the right person and continually discussing and negotiating roles and expectations will be critical for any woman’s success.


Joan was previously a senior executive at Procter & Gamble; she currently serves on several boards of directors and is the Principal of Joan M. Lewis LLC. She was a recent honoree on our Top Ten Female MR Pioneers List. Thank you for sharing with us, Joan!

About the Author

Managing Director for Women in Research

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