The Concept of Work/Life Balance Is Kind of Silly

Illustration for article titled The Concept of Work/Life Balance Is Kind of Silly

Successful career women are almost always — perhaps even literally always — asked in interviews how they deal with the infamous "the work/life balance." Women who haven't married or had children are quizzed on why they haven't — can their withering wombs be chalked up to a heavy workload? — and women who do achieve the mythical "balance" are forced to describe, over and over again, how they've possibly managed such a feat. Men, on the other hand, are rarely asked how they balance family time with work. Perhaps that's why a recent study found that female CFOs are paid about 16% less than their male counterparts — male higher-ups assume that ladies won't want the extra hours once they start popping out babies.

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So kudos to Amanda Steinberg, founder and CEO of DailyWorth, a successful online finance community for women, who told The Grindstone that being a mom is "challenging," yes, but that doesn't mean she's striving to balance the supposed scales. When asked about work/life balance, she said:

I don't strive for a concept of balance — I never have. It almost seems like a silly idea to me — that life should play out in some sort of contrived separation between "work" and "relaxation" or "family time." As a CEO and mom, I'm always working and always "mom." They exist in an almost blended fashion. I lean in both directions depending on which needs me more in that moment.

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The entire interview is worth a read — Steinberg advises young women to learn how to code so they can be "as self-sufficient as possible" and says she considers her gender "secondary" in terms of what she's accomplished in her career — but we're particularly pleased she tackled the impossible and unnecessarily stressful concept of balance that women are too often expected to achieve.

Image via Nelson Marques/Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

eatsandwiches
eatsandwiches

I wish I could agree with this article, but I just don't think that it really makes sense in every industry - and frankly I also think it is a cross-gender issue in a lot of ways. I am in law school right now- and being an ADEQUATE lawyer at a large firm requires more like, a 10-12 hour work day, with some weekend days in the office (not just accessible by e-mail/phone). That doesn't leave a lot of time for life - be it friendships, family, child rearing. And it is common knowledge that only 19% of partners in major law firms are women, while over 50% of law school graduates are women... because the hours I described above (for a large, high paying firm) is the minimum - much more is required to be on a partner track.

It is possible to be a lawyer working more normal 50 hour work weeks, and honestly is probable for the majority of graduates of lower tiered schools. But you won't be making a lot of money - and with the loans required of law students (tuition can be as much as $50k a year, without living expenses while you are in school) - you will be living for many years as if you make much less than you do.

Essentially I think the problem here is the assumption that the only "life" worth having outside of a work is to raise a child. Our society does not value leisure, family time, personal time in a meaningful way. My point is basically that personal time is so devalued in our society that the only thing people can really think of that is worth taking time away from work for is to raise a child -