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back to article I am a recovering Superwoman wannabee

Working moms such as me often fall into the trap of the Superwoman syndrome. The Superwoman syndrome describes the woman that tries to achieve it all: the pursuit of a successful career and a happy family life. The Superwoman can tackle any challenge thrown at her; she is invincible. She can carry all three kids on her back …

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Relax!

Or try to.

I think that we all in this industry have insecurities: we can't know/control it all, and there is fierce competition.

I remember my own experience, checking my email from intensive care after an accident.

Being a woman means some ppl consider that you have to "prove" yourself, and I guess that mus be an added stress.

My recomendations is: try to reserve some quality time for yourself, you only get to live once.

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Re: Relax!

"...reserve some quality time for yourself, you only get to live once."

Agreed. Also, the people that matter may not notice, understand, appreciate or care about the sacrifices you are making for them - in which case, it is all wasted.

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Re: Relax!

Life is just a number of compromises. Some compromise we choose and others are enforced upon us; understanding this will help you have a happier life.

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Re: Relax!

The *only* difference between working men and working women is the acceptability (to some) of compromise for success, I know mums who don't make any effort at work, and become "full time mums" (whatever that is) I know mums who do "pin money" part time jobs while husbands pay the bills, I know women who are CEO's of successful companies and take off two weeks to have a baby (twice, I may add).

Dads can pretty much do whatever they like without fear that they'll be criticised for being a bad parent, making time for the kids seems over and above (by being a "good dad").

What's wrong with this picture? same thing that's wrong with the article, an assumption that men and women are different, Phoummala strives and then caves in, failing to be a "superwoman" is merely failing to be super successful, but accepting that it's OK to be "normal", if this story was about a man, it would just end up with him saying "I couldn't be arsed, but at least I got to spend some extra time with the kids".

The article is hilarious, complaining about stereotypes - and then becomes one.

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What does it profit a person if they gain the whole world but lose their family?

Its not worth the cost if at the end of the day you're a shattered hollow shell of the vibrant wonderful person you used to be. Giving up your family and time with your kids isn't sacrifice because sacrifice implies that we gain something more valuable by giving up the opportunity to spend quality time with our kids/partners. This is an outright fabrication that continues to be spread by industries that won't hesitate to use you up and move on to the next warm body.

The biggest secret of all is that there are no Super's. Just regular men and women doing the best they can to do the best they can. It's easy to mouth words about balance and harder to go out and find it. Well done for recognizing what was happening and taking the appropriate steps to right a listing ship. There are plenty of us workaholic males who could stand to take a page from your book.

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1. If you are not being seen as equal in the workplace, then it's the men with the problem, not you. Work some place else.

2. Shame on you el-reg for picking the 'superman' bodypainted breasts on the sidebar for the image for this article. Totally inappropriate. :(

-Jar

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Trollface

Shame?!? Made me click...

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It's the first Google Image you get if you search for 'superwoman' (with the results filter set to: nerdgasm)

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The sidebar is always full of sexually suggestive images.

Neckbeards + Pictures of Tits = Page Views

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WTF?

And how is The Register helping women in IT?!

"It's a tough game of male egos mixed with discrimination, stereotypes, and fears. If you want to succeed in IT, you need to work hard and play hard."

So why has The Register so clearly missed the point of this article by using a overtly sexual of Superwoman's breasts to promote this otherwise really informative piece?

<<Oh, and I'm a bloke BTW.>>

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: And how is The Register helping women in IT?!

You can continue this discussion via this forum thread, if you wish.

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Re: And how is The Register helping women in IT?!

> tits

> overtly sexual

Welcome to Catholicism.

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The Need for Validation

It's interesting that superwoman still needed "permission" from Sheryl Sandberg's book before becoming more at ease and "leaning back" a bit. This seems to be the big difference between feminine and masculine (stereotypical) characters at work: the male "takes" the ease when deemed appropriate and leans back and doesn't worry (much) about perceptions even when competition is there. While the problem I see with building on the advice from peers and books is that it might still mask the bigger problem: to remain so dependent on sub-textual validation from ones environment and peers before deciding if something is appropriate to do or not, if enough is done or not. This needs to grow out of your own "balls", so to speak. That would be real gender liberation at the work floor, in my opinion. So not what Sandberg would do but what you would do.

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Re: The Need for Validation

If that's the case, then most men in the workforce aren't really males either. This identical insecurity and drive for acceptance cuts a swath through both sexes, although they might not have exactly the same motivators.

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Re: The Need for Validation

"It's interesting that superwoman still needed "permission" from Sheryl Sandberg's book before becoming more at ease and "leaning back" a bit."

I agree - but only partially. In the sense that there is no need to follow some high flying business brass advice - it would be much more important to figure these things by oneself. On the other hand, I don't really agree that these issues are specific to women only - many of us face them with varying degrees of intensity on both (all?) sides of the gender line.

But the article only seems to scratch the surface of it all. We all behave in the way to we do for some quite complex reasons. We all have our motivations, some conscious, some less so. Trying to attain a deeper understanding of what makes one tick would be far more useful and long enduring, than just picking some quick-to-digest advice from the book of some business celebrity - even when that advice is right or it even works.

But overall, an article that is thought provoking and raises issues pertinent to all of us.

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Anonymous Coward

And then there's the women in IT that sue for sexual harrassment when you try to establish a good communication protocol, without ever having been touched or beeing said inappropriate things to. Trust me, I have first hand experience with this.

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Amazingly, I've gotten through a 15 year career so far, working with scores of men, and not once have I needed to take out a sexual harassment complaint.

Then again, I've been fortunate enough to work with guys with a modicum of respect, not dickwads who insist on making "funny" jokes or sending crass pics around. Or worse.

If you're genuinely guilty of none of the above, no inappropriate remarks, touching, jokes, etc, then yeah, there is the rare female dickwad as well.

Although I am extremely curious as to what this "good communication protocol" is, and why you felt you needed to go out of your way to establish one with the (sole?) female you worked with.

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Also Don't forget!

Superman isn't real either.

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Re: Also Don't forget!

Very true.

I (like many men nowadays) take quite a big share in housework, getting the kids to school, helping them with homework, cooking, besides working full time. My wife also works nearly full time so it can become a rat race for both of us. At some point you simply need to say: there are 24 hours in a day, and not all of them should be filled with duties. I have learned to say: "Hang this, I have done as much as could humanly be expected or more, I am now taking time off for my own hobbies" (stargazing: superbly relaxing, it really puts things in perspective). What helps is to focus on what you have accomplished, not on the list of chores that still has to be done.

Not always easy.

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Linux

Don't over-do it

On Radio4 a women radiographer said that she did not know how exhausted she was until the day she retired. IIRC she slept for three days. As the good book says "you cannot help someone out of a pit if you go down into it". Stay on top!

BTW if you want geek status, you should have said an amplifier that goes to 11.

=========> ♀ penguin

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Dig

The problem is you are trying to compete in an industry with men who on the whole enjoy the job more than being with the family and will see the job as a way of avoiding them. For them having to work extra means having more fun and not having to put up with the kids.

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WTF?

Re: Dig

You obviously married the wrong woman, or she married the wrong man.

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Re: Dig

"You obviously married the wrong woman, or she married the wrong man."

There's a lot of that about these days.

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Re: Dig

I didn't see where he said that the men were married or not. Can you point it out to me?

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RE: Matt Bryant

Perhaps you should try a quick poll of your work colleagues., For those who have young families ask them if they would rather be at home with the kids or at work leaving their partner to look after them. See how the answers compare between men and women in the office and between those who seem to be getting the better assignments/bigger wages etc.

As others have said you can work all hours for the company, concentrate on the family or you can decide to have a "good" work/home balance whatever that may be,. Trying to work all hours for the company while doing the family thing can work for a while but you probably end up exhausted. The thing is when the man concentrates on the work he will feel less guilt about it (at least at the time, they may feel delayed guilt years later).

Those that work just the hours required so they can get back to the family make that decision and will rightly or wrongly not normally be promoted above others.

I wonder if Phoummala thinks her male colleagues are also wrestling with their work life balance or are they either 1) single 2) have no kids 3) find it a quieter life at work.

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Stop

Re: Dig Re: RE: Matt Bryant

Is someone a little bitter? Get passed over for those "nice" project roles, or maybe blame your lack of career progress on having to take time off to have kids? Ever stop to think that the employer is not responsible for your kids, you are. You made the choice to have kids, if you didn't think it through then who made the stupid decision? Man or woman, married or co-habiting, having kids is not a decision to be taken lightly. A good employer will probably have been down the road too and will be as flexible as possible IF you are an employee worth it. Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of bleating about how having kids is "your right", that just sounds so weak and unthinking. Work, like a lot of life, is about compromise. Why would you expect a manager to give you a key role if you can't even manage your own life? Sure, the are employees that sacrifice their kids, but a smart manager looks for employees with balance in their lives because they are usually the better longer term bet.

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Re: RE: Matt Bryant

"Perhaps you should try a quick poll of your work colleagues., For those who have young families ask them if they would rather be at home with the kids or at work leaving their partner to look after them. See how the answers compare between men and women in the office and between those who seem to be getting the better assignments/bigger wages etc."

Ok, I bite. Guess what. The result is 100% for people choosing family/kids over work. Sure, many people may work extra remotely over VPN, but even then not unconditionally. Doesn't appear to affect assignments/wages.

Perhaps you work for the wrong company.

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Anonymous Coward

Having both looks and brains, what more does it take to be a Superwoman? Being a Supermom.

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Many people fall into this trap

It's not just women. Many people fall into this trap. Especially middle mgmt and MM wannabes.

Not only are they methodically killing themselves, they are making the rest of us who are not and will not be selling our soul to the company for any price, miserable as well.

No, people do not "overclock". well. Or at all for that matter. And leave your mommy and daddy attitudes at home.

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Re: Many people fall into this trap

Absolutely, by turning the screw tighter on yourself it gets turned tighter for everyone. Which makes the bosses happier.

And ironically, there's no actual correlation between working longer/harder and being more effective. On the contrary, the culture of the hard slog tends to mean that the people who are good at (any) job can be bypassed by the sloggers who just put in lots of ineffective hours.

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Not just women...

This isn't just an issue with women really. I see this as a choice people will make regardless of gender....

Some will devote their time to work almost exclusively; very little social time, no family time. This may or may not help them get ahead -- if there are other people there more talented, they may "get ahead" anyway... and in some other cases, there's basically no normal promotion path anyway, so there is no "ahead" . In some cases, the person either enjoys their work and view it as leisure, some feel an obligation towards work (either for psychological reasons or they are very well paid), and some will have very little leisure and family life anyway so they just spend it working rather than doing absolutely nothing.

Others will devote more to a balanced lifestyle. This is a reasonable choice to make, if devoting all your time to work makes you unhappy or is untenable. In some cases this may put the person at a disadvantage, in other cases I think they *worry* it'll put them at a disadvantage but it won't.

Of course, trying to do both (extensive life outside work *and* extensive work life) will rapidly wear a person out, there are simply not enough hours in the day.

Finally I've seen those who have not found a job to pay enough for them to want to devote more time than needed to it, they make a point of going on lots of trips and spending lots of time outside work, working just enough to cover the bills. They may be having the most fun of all, but I'm guessing they'll never have any savings saved up and so may regret it later.

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Re: Not just women...

Have an upvote on me! Too many articles on life/work balance take the one-sided view of "family above all - or you will be sorry on your death bed". Well, I'm exaggerating a bit here, but I find that the above attitude ends up being a fairly narrow minded approach which doesn't apply to everybody.

Not everybody is the same. Not everybody has the same priorities in life. Not everybody has the same priorities at different times in their life. Not everybody has the same emotional make up. Not everybody has a happy family waiting for them at home. Not everybody has the same past. There are many reasons why some people might enjoy work more than others. Then there is the reality that some of us spent more of our youth searching for a carrier which fits our natural talents and inclinations, while others walked into the first job they could find or which paid the most.

Or some of us just accept that it is impossible to do everything and do it well in this life, but it is quite possible to just do one or two things in this life and do them well. It is a compromise, but that's how it works. And some of us might have accepted to do just some things (i.e. work) and do them well - maybe because of our particular personal situation. And it doesn't necessarily mean we disapprove of those who might have different priorities.

But on the other hand, why would someone who chooses to enjoy more of their time with their family have the same career expectations as someone who might have chosen to forego those pleasures and put more time into work? No one can have it all.

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May I just commend The Reg on having...

...the deliciously poor taste to illustrate this article with a close-up of Mega Fox's boobs?

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Anonymous Coward

I am sick of this poor me crap..

I am a woman in IT, a super woman if you will. I work those 18-35 hour days, with little complaint. I did not have brats, and I am unmarried, and basically single.. I am currently working 20 hour days rolling out a new voip system. This is the life I chose, I don't compete wit male peers, because I do not feel the need to. I do what is required - put the infrastructure first. This isnt a boost of self esteem, its a career. Most importantly, I do not whine about it in books or articles. "Oh poor me, I cant keep up with my male peers".

By the way - who the hell racks servers in high heels??? This job requires jeans and comfy tennis shoes, no matter what your career is.

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I wear work shoes, work pants and a long sleeve collared shirt to work. As a manager I need to be presentable, but also if I have to do something physical then I just get in and do it - crawing under desks or mucking around in the server room. It's not as practical, but there's more to consider than just dressing for practicality reasons.

Many companies have a dresscode too.

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@AC 23:37

"I am a woman in IT, a super woman if you will. I work those 18-35 hour days, with little complaint. I did not have brats, and I am unmarried, and basically single.. "

Missing the point of the article here aren't you. You are single, no children, the author is telling us what it's like if you DO have a family including children at home. The superwoman thing was all about being the perfect high performing employee (or even boss) and at the same time being the perfect partner and mother. As someone who doesn't have a family at home you won't have experienced the expectations that it's the mother who attends sports days & school plays, or the parents evening. And even if someone does have a decent arrangement with their partner on sharing parenting duties, that share still takes up a fair amount of time.

I'm in the same situation as you - single and no children. But I am able to appreciate the problems that others face when they have to try to juggle multiple commitments.

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"I am a woman in IT, a super woman if you will."

We will not. You have missed the point entirely. The point is not that working in IT makes you some kind of superwoman, and it's also not even about IT. It's about trying to keep up in any male-dominated work environment that relies on long hours, whilst at the same time trying to meet society's expectations with regards to married life (which you do not have) and the raising of children (which you do not have).

You absolutely are not a "superwoman" in this context.

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If you're working those hours, more fool you. Unless of course this is a 2-month roll-out, and you're having a month's break afterwards.

I'm not married, hah, nor do I or will I have kids.

But my life is not about "putting the infrastructure first". Yeah, the weeks I'm on call, I'm on call. If there's a project getting close to deadline, I'll put some extra hours in. But if your systems are so unstable, or you have so little backup, or it's one crisis-deliver-NOW project after another, that you are getting called every night or you're not leaving until late o'clock, you don't have too far to look around to see where the problem is.

I'm female, I'm a sysadmin, I couldn't give one toss about family obligations (they are not gender-dependent and I wish more people realised that), and yet I still want a life outside the server room.

You don't get any greater rewards or sufficient recognition for working ridiculous hours constantly, other than a bit more cash in your pay-packet, Perhaps. If you never get the time to spend and enjoy it, what's the point?

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@AC 23:37

"I am currently working 20 hour days rolling out a new voip system. This is the life I chose, I don't compete wit male peers, because I do not feel the need to. I do what is required - put the infrastructure first."

If you have to work 20 hour days, your company is obviously not employing enough staff. Obviously if that is a short term project then it doesn't necessarily make sense to hire more staff.

.. as for "I work those 18-35 hour days" ...well on this planet day is @24 hours so 35 is rather unlikely.

"This isnt a boost of self esteem, its a career. Most importantly, I do not whine about it in books or articles. "Oh poor me, I cant keep up with my male peers"."

Isn't it? Why post it if it isn't. Sounds a bit like a whine to me to be fair.

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@Trixr

"You don't get any greater rewards or sufficient recognition for working ridiculous hours constantly, other than a bit more cash in your pay-packet, Perhaps. If you never get the time to spend and enjoy it, what's the point?"

And also if one consistently does those kinds of hours, it soon becomes expected.

Works for the company. The overtime is cheaper than hiring a new full time employee.

And anyone who thinks the company wouldn't shaft such a person without batting an eyelid if it suits them is a fool.

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Happy

Re: Down not across Re: @AC 23:37

"....Isn't it? Why post it if it isn't. Sounds a bit like a whine to me to be fair." Agreed, I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't someone trying to be a bit too sarcastic. The problem is we're so deeply ingrained with the "don't-be-sexist" mantra we find it hard to even consider sarcasm on the subject.

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Re: Down not across @AC 23:37

"I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't someone trying to be a bit too sarcastic. "

The thought did cross my mind. In the end "thou protest too much" won.

"The problem is we're so deeply ingrained with the "don't-be-sexist" mantra we find it hard to even consider sarcasm on the subject."

You have a valid point there.

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Anonymous Coward

I did not have brats, and I am unmarried, and basically single.. I am currently working 20 hour days rolling out a new voip system. This is the life I chose

You sound like such a fun person to be around! I wonder why you're single? Maybe I could talk you through my slides of interesting telegraph poles sometime?

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As a boss of a largeish number of people scattered acros steh globe I relish a mix of people, genders, ages, marital states, gender preferences, langauges and cultures. It makes for a high performing, self supporting team and one with different views on how to work with the customer,internal and external.

Married wommen with kids are just one thing in the mix, certain concessions have to be made for their life but as far as I can see they ae not so different. As for the superwooman bit, I find that is a Western Anglo-Saxon thing. My central europeans, Latin Americans and Far Easten married seem to take children, their feckless husbands and me in their stride. No excuse making and no whining. Mind you I did have Isabela excuse her self once to go and get her children early - mainly because there was a drung cartel gun fight across the normal road route. No kidding - makes your excuse to go early seem vacuous.

Put trust in people, let them sort out the edges of their life and as far as I can see it just works.

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Mind you I did have Isabela excuse her self once to go and get her children early - mainly because there was a drung cartel gun fight across the normal road route.

You were one character away from a highly amusing typo - I'd love to see a "dung cartel gun fight" - "Eh jefe, these is MY caca de burro"

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Anonymous Coward

Ah yes...

The superwoman or superman or superwhatever, they're pint pots trying to fill themselves with a quart, it never works. The trick is to fill with as much of a pint as you really need and be happier for it.

To all of you, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but it usually tastes like shite.

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Re: Ah yes...

I am not sure about that. I think the top surgeons are quite genuine in that. Something happens at a weekend nobody else has the skill. You can drop everything and try to help or let them die because you are the only one who can do it. (I have been in hospitals where family members are not expected to survive and the top guy has come in dropping whatever he was doing. Just done it and succeeded. Explained the best possible chance was for him to do it). As far as I know those kind of things can happen at any time if you are that guy. (Or girl). I see saving somebody's life quite differently to stopping a company losing money.

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What does this have to do with anything?

So you've got someone very good at their job, and in an emergency they're happy to come in on their day off and do some extra work. That's got nothing to do with the topic at hand.

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Re: What does this have to do with anything?

This topic is someone complaining who has it far easier than loads of other women in the same situation with a really crappy job.

In IT there is loads of second chances. (And at the end of the day its not that important whether money is lost or servers are down for an extra half an hour or day even).

At any given moment not being 100% doesn't have any emotional impact as I am fairly sure making a mistake leading to somebody's death would.

It would be harder for a man to do what she is doing also as women help each other out but won't help out a man in the same situation.

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Re: What does this have to do with anything?

"It would be harder for a man to do what she is doing also as women help each other out but won't help out a man in the same situation"

Makes me wonder how you've behaved towards the women you work with to make them unwilling to help you out. Also, do men never help people out (whether male or female?).

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