The Unmatched Gender

Not so long ago, my wife let me know as to how upset she was that I was still differentiating between our Mothers. She’d asked me to call them both Mom and I’d always sneak off to find a way to make them more addressable in my head. “Could I call them ‘Mom’ and ‘Mum’?”, I came back. “How would I know who’s who when I want to tag a photo?” I said frustrated. With that I’d escaped to the insensitive man-cave of logic. The surprise is that there is indeed a subtle rationality to what she was asking of me. I’ve pondered over and presented my case here.

We’re brought up in a world that values big goals over little ones, performance over uniqueness, scale over nurture, efficiency over engaged. Essentially we’re creating tradeoffs, but for women tradeoffs are absolutely useless. Imagine believing that you’re giving up on time with your child for time at work, or that you’re giving up your home for someone else’s? How would life work if these were indeed rational choices? In fact, how would things work at all without the simple belief that everything changes and the necessary encouragement this belief gives in making the choice presently? It is not that men discriminate more than is necessary. But it is that women are presented with truly difficult choices and they seem to be getting better at making them work. There is that inescapable argument that we’re missing out on developing this certain quality.

I face difficult choices as I go along and I do need to get better at them. Just the other day someone I respect stated with a razor-like clarity that if one were to build and take a product to market, the founders better be 100% committed. This is how the product startup eco-system works and it’s fair if we think about the expectations of those invested. Anyhow what’s right isn’t the point. Let’s look at it another way. The act of choosing could’ve easily dissuaded Zuckerberg, Gates – should I leave Harvard to build Facebook, Microsoft? and the Google founders – finish PhD. or start a Search company? If these choices appear to be straightforward through their eyes, think of the many Gates’, Zuckerbergs, Brins and Pages who did not build a Google, Microsoft, or Facebook in favor of a Harvard, or a Stanford. Reality is that we won’t know a good thing until and unless we see it through.

Women make such choices work out all the time. They’re figuring out how to be themselves and yet be a part of a workforce dominated by men. They’re figuring out how to be good homemakers and yet play a meaningful role in the world outside their homes. They’re figuring out how to be a good Mother and yet grow their career. They’re figuring out how to be a good Daughter and yet found a new family. They’re applying what is universally acknowledged to be a key Business leadership trait*. They’re doing this at the level of an entire gender that accounts for half of everything on this planet. Indeed, what if they were running things?

Dedicated to the Women who’ve helped breath life into this post. Wish you a Happy Woman’s day.

*Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking.