What is Masculinity?

A Per­sonal Story.

Since Spring 2010 , when I accepted an inten­sive train­ing mis­sion with Capgem­ini Con­sult­ing, involv­ing weekly busi­ness trav­els to Paris and abroad, I have been ques­tion­ing Mas­culin­ity and Femininity.

My hus­band has been most of the time in charge of the gro­ceries shop­ping, cook­ing, serv­ing, nur­tur­ing with love and atten­tion, super­vis­ing home­works and find­ing the miss­ing sock too! He has been there to kiss the chil­dren good­night and con­grat­u­late them on their achieve­ments too. He has been there to lis­ten , com­fort  and  receive hugs & tears on his manly Gap shirt. There were times when I was away too long and it was tough. He felt I was too focused on my career and not pay­ing enough atten­tion to him and the chil­dren. “Le monde à l’envers! “The world upside down!  We argued and dis­cussed. We even­tu­ally found a way to man­age and take shifts, so that he could also travel for work, “rest” and rely on me!

Do I feel lucky? Yes, of course I do. But most of the time, I have also felt guilty. Even writ­ing this, a lit­tle voice inside my head is say­ing ” You are their mom. You and only you SHOULD be doing this. Or at least, a nanny or an au Pair.”

It reminds me that the first Au Pair I hired was a 20 year old Cana­dian Male. That was when I was 27, liv­ing in Aix-en-Provence and  chose him because he was so good with play­ing with the chil­dren, espe­cially my 2 year old son. He was cool, pos­i­tive and play­ful and my ex-husband was away most of the time while I was study­ing. It seemed a very nat­ural balance.

Back to now, twenty years later. My part­ner is 100% sup­port­ive. He enjoys cook­ing and does it with art and heart. He is also pas­sion­ate about sci­ences and loves shar­ing and teach­ing. He works full time as a Deputy Direc­tor in the biotech­nol­ogy indus­try. He’s patient and kind and knows when to use humour to get the teenagers’ attention.

Does it make him less “manly”? No, it is much the oppo­site, as far as I am con­cerned. He’s very clear on what he can bring to our home, when I’m not there, what needs to be done and what he wants to han­dle. It makes him all the more attrac­tive .He is car­ing for what we care above all, our fam­ily. That makes him brave, strong, pow­er­ful and sexy!

Then, why do I also feel guilty?

Deep inside of me, thou­sand of years of Patri­archy engraved the belief that a woman’s role is to feed her chil­dren and take care of her home, her nest, while her man hunts in the wild. I’ve been look­ing at rep­re­sen­ta­tions of mas­culin­ity and fem­i­nin­ity. I’m not the only one to be “pro­pa­gan­dized” by this stereotype.

In her Huff­in­g­ton Post arti­cle, Mar­cia Reynolds ques­tions Fem­i­nin­ity.

Does accept­ing my fem­i­nin­ity mean I like wear­ing nice shoes and get­ting my nails done? I do like this. Does it mean I like to nur­ture oth­ers? To be honnest, I don’t…I like to chal­lenge peo­ple more than to nur­ture them.”

When a man nur­tures his chil­dren, does it make him feminine?

Mar­cia Reynolds defines fem­i­nin­ity as

a mind­set that any­one, includ­ing men, can cul­ti­vate and cher­ish. The abil­ity to value and include every­one who desires to con­tribute to a com­mon goal.”

If so, a man  is mas­cu­line when he includes his fem­i­nine side. He is human. He is a man express­ing his full humanity.

Then, What is Masculinity?

Har­vard Busi­ness School Pro­fes­sor Robin Ely has writ­ten a remar­quable work­ing paper, “Unmask­ing Manly Men: The Orga­ni­za­tional Recon­struc­tion of Male Iden­tity”. She states,

” We define mas­cu­line iden­tity as the sense a man makes of him­self as a man, which devel­ops in the course of his inter­ac­tions with oth­ers. Such inter­ac­tions are shaped by cul­tur­ally avail­able ide­olo­gies about what it means to be a man. Hence, men’s mas­cu­line iden­tity (like women’s fem­i­nine iden­tity) is a pro­foundly social and cul­tural phenomenon.”

Her con­clu­sions are inspir­ing, both for women and men in the workplace.

The recon­struc­tion of mas­cu­line iden­tity involves a trans­for­ma­tion of the process of iden­tity con­struc­tion from one anchored in efforts to prove some­thing about one­self to one anchored in the real demands of their work. Ques­tions about which traits are bet­ter — mas­cu­line or fem­i­nine–  become moot when iden­tity con­struc­tion processes are no longer defensive.”

When indi­vid­u­als grow strong in self-confidence and self-esteem, then they can accept the inclu­sion of both mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine traits in work­ing to achieve a mis­sion. They no longer need to prove them­selves along gen­der lines.

This research has impli­ca­tions about the rel­a­tive mer­its of “mas­cu­line” ver­sus “fem­i­nine” traits.

Lead­er­ship schol­ars have begun to ques­tion heroic mod­els of lead­er­ship, favor­ing a more rela­tional approach often asso­ci­ated with fem­i­nin­ity. Our find­ings sug­gest that such debates may focus on the wrong ques­tion because how peo­ple enact their gen­der iden­ti­ties– defen­sively ver­sus gen­er­a­tively–may be more con­se­quen­tial than what traits they display.”

What if they were not really such a thing as “mas­cu­line” and “feminine”?

In Big Think, Glo­ria Steinem says that ” There isn’t really such a thing as a “mas­cu­line” and a “feminine”.

Wow!

The dif­fer­ences between two women are quite likely to be big­ger than the gen­er­al­ized dif­fer­ences between males and females as groups for every pur­pose except repro­duc­tion, just as the indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences between two mem­bers of the same race or etnic­ity are prob­a­bly greater than the dif­fer­ences between two races.”

What needs to be done if we want to move beyond gen­der stereotypes?


  • Let go of guilt
  • Build a strong con­fi­dence in our­selves and trust in the others
  • Let go of defensiveness
  • Fos­ter cooperation
  • Accept to share our power out­side AND inside our home too
  • Accept to share the rewards and the love too, not only the chores!
  • Enjoy the process of self-discovery with curios­ity and enthusiasm
  • Cher­ish and cel­e­brate the new parts of each-other’s self in the discovery

What if men could do what women do at home?

What Glo­ria Steinem tells us is to reassess our assump­tions about men. Women have been into men’s ter­ri­tory and have proven they could do a man’s job. There is def­i­nitely a lot to be done so that they have equal rights, equal pay­ments, equal respon­s­abil­i­ties. Still, “women ris­ing in power in the world” is now acknowl­edged to be con­tribut­ing to world health, edu­ca­tion, envi­ron­ment  and economy.

Do you want some more facts and fig­ures? Just read in the excel­lent 20-first Build­ing Gen­der Bal­anced Busi­ness by Avi­vah Wittenberg-Cox:

What are we wait­ing to give men a vital and pow­er­ful place at home as well, as a care­taker, as an edu­ca­tor, as a nur­turer, as a link builder?

We have not demon­strated that men can do what women do. There­fore chil­dren are still mostly raised by women, and women in indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries end up hav­ing two jobs: one out­side the home and one inside the home. And more seri­ously than that, chil­dren grow up believ­ing that only women can be lov­ing and nur­tur­ing, which is a libel on men, and that only men can be pow­er­ful in the world out­side the home, which is a libel on women.”

Con­clu­sion?

I kept the Big Think provoca­tive tit­tle for the end and I love it.

We need to eroti­cize equality.

Let go of dominance/submission pat­terns and wel­come the excite­ment of coop­er­a­tion with joy and freedom!

Your turn!

What are YOU doing to allow men in your life to be more lov­ing and nur­tur­ing at home? How do you fos­ter coop­er­a­tion within your cou­ple? What works? What’s more dif­fi­cult? How do you cope with guilt? How do you cope with tough choices and their consequences?

How do you “eroti­cize” equality?

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29 Responses to What is Masculinity?

  1. Pingback: NOW Leadership Carnival- November 2010 | Geronimocoaching's Blog

  2. Wendy Mason says:

    Let go of guilt
    Build a strong con­fi­dence in our­selves and trust in the oth­ers
    Let go of defensiveness’

    These really struck a cord with me. My part­ner and I both have demand­ing roles out­side the house. He has no prob­lem shar­ing the tasks. So why oh why do I feel uncom­fort­able and feel it is as a crit­i­cism if he picks up a duster? Don’t know and it is cer­tainly not a ratio­nal response. He has no prob­lem with me putting on a busi­ness suit and pick­ing up a brief case! Guess I’m still learn­ing about true partnership!

    • Thank you so much Wendy for writ­ing this first com­ment.
      It’s always scary to put out in the open feel­ings of guilt and not being ade­quate.
      It’s irra­tional and even in the best part­ner­ships, we find some awk­ward feel­ings.
      Know­ing that you too can relate to what I describe is telling me that I’m not imag­in­ing things. These feel­ings exist, they are attached to ancient arche­types.
      Still, it’s good to acknowl­edge them . Thank you Wendy.

  3. Mar­ion — You have made a won­der­ful con­tri­bu­tion to gen­der equal­ity with the phrase and ideas that will emerge when we “eroti­cize equal­ity.” You are a mar­ket­ing genius.

    • Thank you Anne for chal­leng­ing me on that sub­ject by cre­at­ing together the Now Lead­er­ship.
      I can’t wait to explore fur­ther the New Ter­ri­tory of Beyond Feminine/Masculine bor­ders…
      (PS: In order to “ren­dre à César ce qui appar­tient à César”, the catchy phrase belongs to Glo­ria Steinem, in Big Think.)

  4. globalcoachcenter says:

    Mar­ion — very inter­est­ing post. How do you look at femininity/masculinity from the point of view of fem­i­nine vs mas­cu­line energy? I wrote a post about those ener­gies just a few days before you wrote this post and now I am think­ing where the two are syn­er­gis­tic… any thoughts? (My post is at http://globalcoachcenter.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/for-all-expatriate-women-out-there/)

    • Thank you Mar­garita (yes, I’ve been vis­it­ing your great blog and looked up your “About the Founder” page, very inspir­ing), your post res­onates with mine indeed.
      I like the idea of fem­ine or mas­cu­line “energy”, although I’m not sure I would define it the same way as you do.
      You seem to match mas­cu­line with seri­ous and hard dri­ven work and fem­i­nine with play­ful and light. It can be. Not always.
      “My” mas­cu­line energy can be very play­ful too, fun and childlike…Like the God Dyon­isos for instance! I guess it’s about a very per­sonal inter­pre­ta­tion of these arche­types!
      “My” fem­i­nine energy can some­times be laser like and deter­mined, like the Athena God­dess.
      I love to play with these arche­types. That’s why in my coach­ing, even with exec­u­tives, I use “fig­urines” (plas­toy char­ac­ters of fairy tales, heroes, mon­sters, princes, witches, etc..) It releases all kind of ener­gies, taboos and inhi­bi­tions and pro­vides clear answers to com­plex ques­tions.
      I very much like the way you are able to aknowl­edge the two dif­fer­ent kinds of energy and learn to adjust and find a new bal­ance.
      Happy to be con­nected with you in Saint Peters­bourg and to have found a new colleague!

      • globalcoachcenter says:

        Thank you, Mar­ion, for tak­ing a look at my post. When I was con­trast­ing mas­cu­line vs. fem­i­nine energy I was refer­ring less to seri­ous vs. play­ful, but more to “drive to achieve” vs. “already being in achieve­ment”. I feel that when we get lost in the “drive to achieve” as deter­mined by the world around us, we lose the feel­ing of already “being in achieve­ment” (and “being in achieve­ment” doesn’t mean that we can­not achieve more). It’s less about the “how” of that achieve­ment (because like you said we, women, can be laser-like and deter­mined as well as child-like and play­ful — just as men can be both) — but more about rec­og­niz­ing it.

        I don’t have any num­bers of course, but com­ing purely from the expe­ri­ence of coach­ing men and women, I hear a lot more guilt around achieve­ment from women than from men. And when I hear that guilt, I also hear that this guilt comes from look­ing at achieve­ment from “mas­cu­line” energy per­spec­tive rather than “feminine”.

        I think that if both women and men have a healthy bal­ance of both ener­gies, the world would be a bet­ter place. :) I hope this makes sense…

        Good to get to know you too!

  5. colmoriain says:

    Feel u are over­analysing male/female role stereo­types; I came from defined male role fam­ily with father for­bid­ding boys to assist in kitchen but have had no dif­fi­culty shar­ing roles with wife and 2 daugh­ters over 30yrs; now in lim­ited role as archi­tect from home (due to reces­sion) with wife work­ing full time and have no prob­lem clean­ing house, iron­ing etc; I believe that it is more a ques­tion of degree of open­ness to ‘role’ shar­ing between part­ners than any female/male divi­sion of labour. TY for shar­ing though but feel you should ‘lighten up’ and share all roles together as need requires rather than use ‘guilt’ as a sup­posed cross to bear!

  6. colmoriain says:

    Point is ‘guilt’ can eas­ily become a self absorbed pri­vate emo­tion which can mask an under­ly­ing real con­cern about the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion in being absent from a young child’s life; as such in can be felt by either men or women; tra­di­tional ‘role’ may make a woman’s absence appear more guilt rid­den but in real­ity the absence of either par­ent for long peri­ods is not ben­e­fi­cial to any child, any any creche is a poor sub­sti­tute. Truly a love or even a ‘chore’ shared is bet­ter than a polemic posted! This com­ment is not meant to offend but to offer a sim­ple thought for con­sid­er­a­tion in the dilemna which faces most ‘mod­ern’ patents! Ty once again for shar­ing and tweeting!

    • Thank you for adding this new com­ment Colm.
      I agree with you that, even­tu­ally, it is more a ques­tion of degree of open­ness to ‘role’ shar­ing between part­ners than any female/male divi­sion of labour.
      Still, my expe­ri­ence is that in real­ity, even if men have become as coop­er­a­tive as you are, women can’t help feel­ing guilty or at least quite con­trol­ling in the way they share tasks & respon­s­abil­i­ties at home.
      I’m look­ing around , among all my friends who , as a cou­ple, both work and have chil­dren, the pat­tern is very sim­i­lar. Either they man­age to have some flex­i­bil­ity at work, and in 90% cases, it’s the woman who is flex­i­ble, or they both strug­gle and try to do it all.
      In the sec­ond case, two pos­si­bil­i­ties: they can afford some help, then they del­e­gate. Who’s hir­ing, man­ag­ing, orga­niz­ing the del­e­ga­tion? The Mom.
      Sec­ond pos­si­bil­ity, they split the tasks, but who will super­vise and antic­i­pate (even­tu­ally Lead), usu­ally the Mom. The guilt is not only “per­ceived” but felt deeply and it can be hurt­ful for the child too.
      I could go on and on but I don’t want to “over-analyse” :-)
      I also agree with you that from the child’s per­spec­tive, none of the par­ents absence is ben­e­fi­cial.
      We need to re-invent work , tak­ing into account women and men and also our chil­dren, next gen­er­a­tion of women and men!

  7. Am look­ing at exactly this ques­tion with my own research — which focuses on which of the human traits dri­ves a sus­tain­abil­ity change agent (within a cor­po­ra­tion). In order to fig­ure this out and be able to talk about it/learn from it, traits need to be de-gendered (eg. nur­tu­rance should not be con­sid­ered a female-only trait). Michael Kim­mel has writ­ten a GREAT book about this topic and I highly rec­om­mend it: The Gen­dered Society.

    Thanks for this very thor­ough, insight­ful post.

    • This is exactly why I am writ­ing on this blog: to stim­u­late sparks of dis­cus­sion and debates and to open new doors of learn­ing.
      I also went to muse on your site, learnedon.com and you really deserve your beau­ti­ful name!
      I will look into The Gen­dered Soci­ety (already book­marked an arti­cle for my next TGV travel in a cou­ple of min­utes…)
      I’m about to leave for a two days road trip, and this dis­cus­sion helps me keep on track and lighten up.
      Thank you.

      • I do appre­ci­ate my last name, and am so thank­ful it came nat­u­rally (thanks Dad). I’d love to hear/read your thoughts once you’ve read The Gen­dered Soci­ety. One thing that should help the broader gen­der con­ver­sa­tion is mak­ing sure we don’t just see “gen­der stud­ies” as about women.. and that we read both the smart women and men who write about their research or per­spec­tives. Kim­mel is a key rep­re­sen­ta­tive of such wis­dom in my mind.

        • I will make sure I read The Gen­dered Soci­ety, Andrea. I agree with you on the neces­sity of includ­ing both Men and Women in the re-creation of new arche­types for 21st cen­tury. It’s all what NOW Lead­er­ship is about!

  8. Hi Mar­ion — thought­ful post — have been mulling over it all day!

    We’re liv­ing in inter­est­ing time. I actu­ally believe that the chang­ing nature of the tra­di­tional fam­ily unit and role allo­ca­tion within rela­tion­ships, is going to have a huge impact on work­place prac­tises in the next decade. There are clearly shifts going on, just as the one you are expe­ri­enc­ing in your own household.

    The fam­ily has always been an eco­nomic unit and it is only very recently ( in the over­all anthro­po­log­i­cal scheme of things) that chil­dren stayed in full time edu­ca­tion until early adult­hood, requir­ing increased parental involve­ment. They too were out work­ing. In many parts of the world this is sadly still a fact of life.

    I think what will be more sig­nif­i­cant than changes within the nuclear fam­ily, is the increase in sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies — in the UK 25% depen­dent kids are in a sin­gle par­ent house­holds with sim­i­larly high pre­cen­t­ages in the US . Moth­ers and fathers then have to assume all the qual­i­ties, attrib­utes and roles which have tra­di­tion­ally been ascribed as stereo­typ­i­cally male and female.

    For many, this will open up all sorts of pos­si­bil­i­ties for growth — for some it may not — but we will see some inter­est­ing changes I’m sure.

    • As always, I read your com­ments and posts with appetite and curios­ity, Dorothy, as they open new doors and pro­vide very upto­date infor­ma­tion.
      Thank you for remind­ing us 2 trends:
      1) Chil­dren are stay­ing in full time edu­ca­tion until early (and some­times later!) adult­hood. It can become really chal­leng­ing for both par­ents.
      I can only encour­age every one of you who reads this to stop at Dorothy’s post
      “Boomerang Kids: The New Exec­u­tive Stress“
      http://dorothydalton.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/boomerang-kids-the-new-executive-stress/

      2) The huge increase in sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies.
      The neces­sity for one par­ent to embrace both roles, the mom and the dad, to be both nur­tur­ing, car­ing and also seet­ing rules and lim­its.
      I would also add a third per­spec­tive: a poll has found that ” One in six young chil­dren from single-parent fam­i­lies spend fewer than two hours a week with a father, grand­fa­ther or male role model”.
      An arti­cle from The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/jan/19/children-earlyyearseducation sug­gests that we need more men to work in nurs­ery schools and take care of the chil­dren under 5 especially.

      Almost two-thirds of the sin­gle moth­ers con­sid­ered it impor­tant for their chil­dren to have reg­u­lar con­tact with male role mod­els. A third believed boys related bet­ter to men than to women.

      The CWDC, which tries to ensure nurs­ery work­ers have ade­quate train­ing, wants more men to work in nurs­ery schools.

      Thom Crabbe, its national devel­op­ment man­ager for early years, said: “It is impor­tant that dur­ing the cru­cial first five years of a child’s life they have qual­ity con­tact with both male and female role mod­els. Work­ing with under-fives is def­i­nitely a job for the boys.”

      This is good mate­r­ial for another post, just like your com­ment here trig­gered an excel­lent post on your blog Dorothy :
      “Super Woman, an Out­dated Con­cept “
      http://dorothydalton.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/superwoman-an-out-moded-concept/
      Again, thank you for open­ing up the debate, Dorothy!

      • Mar­ion — thanks for a great and detailed reply. Dynam­ics are chang­ing and demands will come from both women and men re-negotiating their roles both at home and the work­place to have greater work / life bal­ance and hope­fully feel more complete .

        I agree that all chil­dren are hard wired to need and should have the atten­tion of both par­ents. The Gen Y women con­tacts that I do know, do not want to be Super­women… such a great pro­gres­sion. I actu­ally don’t think mater­nity leave will ever be abol­ished — women have to give birth to their babies and deserve that time. How­ever, the intro­duc­tion and accep­tance of pater­nity leave com­bined with a cul­tural shift for men to have flex­i­ble work­ing to accom­mo­date fam­ily demands, will be a huge step for­ward. As the increase in divorce rates cre­ates a slew of sin­gle fathers, then there should be a nat­ural shift in this direc­tion. I have noticed how this trend is already impact­ing exec­u­tive searches — it is only a ques­tion of time before it becomes a work­place issue.

        Thanks for open­ing such a lively debate.

  9. Anna Smith says:

    My hus­band works with spe­cial needs kids (high school age) and spends a good part of his day chang­ing dia­pers. At home, he is also very car­ing, con­sid­er­ate, goes gro­cery shop­ping, washes dishes, cleans the house, etc. I, for exam­ple, enjoy repair­ing things — we prob­a­bly act very ‘mod­ern’. But I think we get our energy from dif­fer­ent sources.
    I feel ener­gized when I nur­ture and cre­ate, he seems to be more ener­gized when he makes oth­ers feel ‘safe’ (for exam­ple, some of the older kids are ashamed when they have to be bath­roomed, but usu­ally feel safe/at ease when my hus­band does it).
    A while back I read ‘The Moral Ani­mal’, crazy/fun book, and have won­dered, am I attracted to my hus­band because hav­ing him around will increase the chances that my off­spring is pro­tected and can pros­per? Strange.
    And yes/yet, dominance/submission pat­terns suck!

    • Great to con­nect with you, Anna. I’m grate­ful that you stopped by and com­mented on this post. Your expe­ri­ence is inspir­ing, thank you for shar­ing it with us.
      I like the way you describe the way you get your energy and I will cer­tainly check “The Moral Ani­mal”, espe­cially if it’s a crazy and fun book!!!
      Your and your hus­band are rein­vent­ing new mod­els, you are “eroti­ciz­ing” equality!

  10. Yup, totally agree with need for rede­f­i­n­i­tions and degen­deris­ing behav­ioural traits. But i would still argue that men and women are dif­fer­ent (not nec­es­sar­ily innately so) and that these dif­fer­ences are com­ple­men­tary and should be cel­e­brated and val­ued, not ignored or banished.

    And i always say that women will only be lead­ers (in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers) when men are enabled to be fathers… We’re start­ing to see them want this at home, but the work world is not giv­ing them per­mis­sion. Ban mater­nity leave and replace it by parental leave. Swe­den started, ger­many (of all places) intro­duced it last year and i just got.back from Chile where the Min­is­ter for Women is push­ing it…

    • So good to dis­cover your com­ment this morn­ing, Avi­vah! You are a real inspi­ra­tion for me with your mis­sion to build 21st cen­tury gen­der “bilin­gual” organ­i­sa­tions.
      Yes, “women will be lead­ers when men are enabled to be fathers.“
      Yes, diff­fer­ences between men and women should be cel­e­brated and val­ued, as well as dif­fer­ences between national cul­tures, as long as we over­come stereo­typ­ing. The “do’s and don’t ” found in cer­tain cross-cultural man­age­ment pro­grammes are a poor way of under­stand­ing cultures.It’s very sim­i­lar with gen­der stud­ies, as was stressed by Andrea Learned, we need to avoid gen­der stereo­typ­ing as well.
      The metaphor of bilin­guism is a very pow­er­ful one regard­ing gen­ders.
      We need inter­pre­tors and facil­i­ta­tors to bridge the gen­der gap in organ­i­sa­tions.
      I am ready to be part of the Cruisade!

  11. Mary Wilson says:

    Mar­ion, another thought-provoking post. My hus­band cleaned house and cooked before it became semi-“acceptable” for a man to do those things. He was severely crit­i­cized and teased by other male fam­ily mem­bers, who prob­a­bly feared that their wives would expect the same from them. He often joked that he was going to get preg­nant and stay home with the kids while I worked. As it turned out, we never had chil­dren, but I con­tin­ued to be the one who trav­eled on busi­ness and climbed the cor­po­rate lad­der while he kept things in order at home. In our 34 years of mar­riage, we have almost never fol­lowed “tra­di­tional” male/female roles. Although it’s been dif­fi­cult to sort out at times, we found a way to col­lab­o­rate with each other and make it work (despite much of the rest of the world not understanding).

    • Thank you Mary for shar­ing this per­sonal story with us here.
      As you stress it, dar­ing to move from “tra­di­tional” male/female roles attracts crit­i­cisms, “teas­ing” and even sar­casms. It also trig­gers fears and , secretly, envy.
      It takes courage to over­come these obsta­cles and a great deal of self-confidence and deter­mi­na­tion to keep on behav­ing accord­ing to your val­ues.
      Well done for both of you, you are pioneers!

  12. Monica Diaz says:

    I faced a sim­i­lar chal­lenge when my chil­dren were small and my work sud­denly pros­pered, leav­ing me to do back-to-back work­shops away from home. I had been trav­el­ling with the chil­dren, tak­ing a nanny wher­ever I went, with them joy­ously play­ing on hotel grounds while I was work­ing. But now, the eldest was in school and we did not feel it was appro­pri­ate to inter­rupt his flow so much. So they stayed home with Dad. On one par­tic­u­lar day when I was very upset, I called home and told Rubén how I missed them and that I should be there and that this was all wrong! He lis­tened patiently, lov­ingly as he does. Then, qui­etly, reminded me: I have been miss­ing them when they trav­elled with you, too. Give your­self to your work. They are well cared for and it’s just your turn to miss them! My Mex­i­can hus­band, raised in the land of the macho was so much more bal­anced in his view than I was being. It was a sim­ple les­son and an endur­ing one. Beyond roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties, I love the way my chil­dren grew up, see­ing us both take on what­ever par­ent­ing required of us. I only hope they find that bal­ance for them­selves when they are faced with the dis­tinc­tion between the mas­cu­line and the feme­nine. As the mother of three young men, I cross my fin­gers and wait to see ;)

    • What a lovely and inspir­ing com­ment, Mon­ica. Thank YOU!
      I can just pic­ture you in this hotel, hav­ing this tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with your hus­band and I relate so much to what you express.
      Here I am, in a big empty con­fer­ence room at a Novo­tel, wait­ing for my work­shop to start, com­ing back from a 2 day lead­er­ship train­ing in Paris, hav­ing hardly had the time to kiss my chil­dren good­bye in their bed early this morn­ing and wish­ing I could ALSO clone myself AND be there when they come back from school. It’s about choices, every day. It’s about flex­i­bilty and tak­ing turns. It’s about shar­ing also your role as a carer of your home & fam­ily and accept­ing the real­ity that they can work it out per­fectly fine WITHOUT you too!
      Some­times the guilt comes by the believe you are all mighty and they could not sur­vive with­out you.
      It’s not true. Not only they do sur­vive, but they also ben­e­fit from other aspects of hav­ing their father close to them. When I came back home yes­ter­day evening from Paris, my hus­band told me he had set the Scalex­tric (rac­ing cars) in the liv­ing room and played with the twins (boy & girl!). He also cooked with our 15 year old boy while lis­ten­ing to his favorite Led Zep­pelin records! (Strangely, my boy would NEVER accept to help me with the cook­ing before!)
      I smiled also at the men­tion of your “Mex­i­can hus­band, raised in the land of Macho”!!!
      Def­i­nitely, your 3 boys will be raised in the land of Free­dom & Love!

  13. Mar­ion you might be inter­ested in this: You will see the com­ments were from 3 men deal­ing with prob­lems related to being sin­gle par­ents. The feel­ing was that busi­ness organ­i­sa­tions seem to be slow in adjust­ing to this new real­ity, in the way that the edu­ca­tion sec­tor is respond­ing. More food for thought!

    http://dorothydalton.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/divorce-and-executve-search-strategies/

    • Excel­lent! Yes, the work­place need to adjust to shift­ing work­force demographics,and dri­ves with an increas­ingly diverse work­force trans­form­ing the orga­ni­za­tions. Men and women’s lives are chang­ing. We can­not keep on work­ing with the same old rules. We need to cre­ate new ones and design orga­ni­za­tions that fit the next Generation.

      I believe there’s plenty of room for cre­ativ­ity, inno­va­tion and empa­thy. It has just started!

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