Facebook Chief Operations Officer Sheryl Sandberg Says: 100% Of Women Caught in Guilt Chasm Between Business and Family.
Women make up 60% of college graduates, but only 41% of the workforce. (forbes.com). Women are dropping out… by the millions. Why? Guilt and Overwhelm.
Am I Abandoning My Family?
According to recent statistics, in a home where both a woman and man work full-time and have children, women do twice the amount of housework that the man does, and three times the amount of child care.
Eight of ten mothers report experiencing guilt for leaving their children in the care of others while pursuing a business, while only three out of ten men report the same guilt.
This guilt leads to burnout, stress, and overwhelm. Those lead to business closure and failure. “Often, women entrepreneurs start with a passion to change the world, and end up so overwhelmed that they wake up one day wondering: where did my passion for this go? Where’s the excitement? From that point on, the business goes on a death watch,” says Dr. Morgan Giddings, former scientist with the Human Genome Project and serial entrepreneur.
Two Ideologies and One Result: Guilt
One ideology says: WOMEN RAISE CHILDREN. WOMEN HAVE FAMILIES. WOMEN BELONG AT HOME.
The alternative ideology says: Women should work harder than men to prove that we can do whatever they do (better and smarter, of course). Women should abandon our roles in the homes, and be cutthroat businesswomen. Forget that touchy-feely stuff like family, friends, and free time. We are here to PROVE our worth!
This leads to two-pronged guilt. Women feel guilty for abandoning our family for a career, and also feel guilty for wanting a family in conjunction with a career. We
feel guilty for asking for higher salaries and promotions because we end up feeling like impostors since we aren’t men but often try to act like we are to “succeed.” All this guilt adds up to one thing: business struggles and failure.
Women-owned Businesses Struggle
Women-owned businesses make up 46% of the privately held companies in the US, but 3/4 of those businesses make less profits than their male-owned counterparts. (forbes.com). The number of women-owned businesses are on a steady rise, but the success of these businesses is not.
Women face productivity-sapping guilt from more than one direction. Studies show differences between men and women in the ability to acknowledge our own successes. This undeserving mindset causes dysfunction when it comes to the most important parts of a business: promoting and selling.
“I have sabotaged several of my previous business attempts through an inability to feel deserving of success,” says Dr. Giddings.
In a TED talk about the lack of women in leadership positions, Sheryl Sanberg says: “men attribute their success to themselves, while women attribute it to external factors.” Men will cite themselves as to why they achieved success, while women will project success onto luck, help, or hard work. We have a hard time acknowledging our own roles in our OWN success.
Beatrice Fitzpatrick, the founder of the American Woman’s Economic Development Corporation made this observation about women entrepreneurs: “Women business owners need peer support more than any other peer group I’ve seen. They almost never get the social reinforcement needed to start and run a business. Being an entrepreneur is very lonely. It’s not what is taught as ‘appropriate feminine behavior.’ When women run into trouble is when they begin to see that they could really be big and successful, grossing millions, with scores of employees. That’s when they get scared—afraid of what will happen to their social relationships, especially with men.” And that’s often when the guilt leads to self-sabotage and business failure.
Lots of Talk, Few Deep Solutions To The Business-Destroying Guilt
Top women CEOs and entrepreneurs are engaging in conversations about the overwhelm, the guilt, and the feeling of un-deservingness. There are many pointers shared about how to deal with each type of guilt, but sadly all the lip service does little to make a fundamental shift in behavior, when the guilt runs deep, stemming often from early childhood experiences that were “cemented” into memory.
“It is a bit like putting band-aids on a skin cancer; it may make the patient feel better for a while, but it doesn’t cure the cancer,” says Dr. Giddings.
“One of the things we do … is make everything look so easy. We’re supposed to be perfect. We’re supposed to be beautiful. We’re supposed to be thin. And it’s all supposed to come easy … And it isn’t. On every level. Trying to work, balance a family, succeed, make money, which should be as fundamentally important as everything else we do, it isn’t easy…We all need to have a true, honest conversation about not only the challenges we face but how we can help each other,” said author Mika Brzezinski.
Help seems to be vitally important when it’s estimated that a whopping 879,660 women-owned businesses will fail in their first year of operation.
Yet Women CAN Succeed Wildly
Women own 10.6 million businesses in the United States. While the percentage of women in high-profile corporate positions is low, statistics show that when a woman is at the helm, there is an increased profit return of a 103.4% on average. That is compared to an average with the 69.5% return of companies without a woman calling the shots. Women are able to “make things work” and be incredibly successful in today’s society, but there is still the deeply-held idea that
sacrifices have to made.
That’s why there are so few women in such positions in the first place. That is why women-owned businesses struggle and often fail.
This status quo does not have to be your life. “There are women who create a balance between business success, family, and personal time to take care of their own needs,” says Giddings, “but it comes with one cost: the willingness to dig deep, committing to release all the beliefs causing the guilt, the overwhelm, and the self-doubt.”
Get Help Releasing The Guilt NOW
“‘Trying to do it all by yourself’ and ‘I don’t even have time to get help’ are the early warning signs of failure,” says Giddings. Her own experience as a professor, mother, and entrepreneur was that of trying to “be it all and do it all” – and then having a massive career crash as a result. In that crash in 2010, she left the security of a tenured faculty job at UNC-Chapel Hill behind with a single angry resignation letter to her department chair. With a family including three young daughters, and her partner without a stable job, it was a very risky move. “I had to quit, I was exhausted to my core,” says Giddings.
After recovering from crash and then building a business to produce over seven figures in just a few years, Dr. Giddings has started offering help to other women entrepreneurs to escape the cycle of guilt, shame, and lost productivity. “As a former cancer genomics scientist, I don’t work with shallow band-aid solutions – I dig deeply into the beliefs causing the imbalance, and identify ways to immediately start rooting those out,” says Giddings. “I have a dream of helping thousands of entrepreneurs find meaning, purpose, and joy in their businesses and lives over the coming years, and I feel it’s particularly important to help women with this. We deserve FAR better than this mess we’re currently in!”