We all have a picture in our head when we hear the word “Superwoman.”
Maybe you’re thinking of Gal Galdot punching through walls. Maybe you’re thinking of that friend you have who successfully works full time, raises all four of her children, has a sparkling-clean house, and somehow manages to bake her own bread every week.
This week, I was monitoring LexBlog’s social media during ILTACON, and I ran across a conference session that was garnering quite a bit of attention on Twitter. Four inspiring women in legal sat on a panel, discussing “Women Who Lead.”
— David Horrigan (@DavidHorrigan) August 20, 2019
As a woman who loves supporting other women in business, that title alone is enough to grab my full attention. However, I noticed something different about this session as I began to monitor the live tweets coming through the #ILTACON19 hashtag.
I was expecting the standard session with an all-women panel, which comes down to the common denominator of “women need to do more.” We need more representation, responsibility, leadership, influence. While I think this is an excellent cause, and firmly believe it is done with the good intention of supporting women in business, I am often struck with how it evades the full picture of what women face as leaders not only in the workplace, but also in other roles outside of their careers.
This particular session was called “Women Who Lead: Leading by Example: Balancing ‘Always On’ and How to Turn it Off.” Rather than naming ways that other women in leadership can do more or be better at what they already work tirelessly for, the panelists discussed finding balance when we feel overburdened with juggling obligations between a career, family, friends, volunteer service, and health.
One of the top discussion points was “Superwoman Syndrome,” which was a term originally coined in a 1984 book, The Superwoman Syndrome by Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz.
— tamj (@tamj) August 20, 2019
Some of the panelists, including New York Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy, and Principal Consultant at GrowthPay, Brianna Leung, named their solutions for dealing with Superwoman Syndrome.
#ILTACON19 Hon. Kennedy discussing setting boundaries, being present and engaged, and sometimes you have to take things off your plate to serve yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one will.
— Meredith L. Williams-Range (@mlwilliams77) August 20, 2019
— Monica Sandler (@MLSandler) August 20, 2019
— tamj (@tamj) August 20, 2019
As I read through some of these tweets, some of them direct quotations from the incredibly successful women on the panel, I was inspired by the refreshing message being communicated.
The message was not that women in leadership can’t handle all of the different roles in their lives and need to chill out on the sidelines. It also was not aimed to make already hard-working women undergo guilt about feeling too overburdened to do more.
Their message was based on empowering assumption that women are superheroes capable of balancing many roles and many stakeholders within each role. The panelists gave answers from their own experiences learning about setting boundaries and saying “not right now,” not only as CEOs and supreme court justices, but as mothers, sisters, and friends.
A fundamental component of being a happy, healthy individual is finding balance. Sometimes in all the hectic commotion of every day life, we need to be reminded of that. This session encouraged me, and from what Twitter shows me, many other women who are out there working hard in everything they do.