Distilling the careers of 44 women with diverse work experiences to 150-175 words each for our annual Women in Business feature is a challenge, to say the least. We ask them far more about themselves than we can print in an effort to find the greatest variety of occupations and interesting personal information. That means difficult decisions need to be made about what information to include and what must get left on the editing room floor.
First to be included in each profile, obviously, is information about their work. The women featured this year are executives and entrepreneurs, high-level managers, nonprofit leaders, and educators or civil servants who play key strategy roles in their organizations. It is easy enough to explain what they and their employers do, less easy to make room for a few words about why they do it, how they feel about it, and the sort of personal information that makes them live and breathe on the page.
Among the questions we ask of each is, “What do you consider to be your greatest personal accomplishment?” Rarely will you see their answers in the story, so I am compelled to convey that, nearly to a woman, each answered—emphatically—a happy marriage and-or raising happy children.
I mention this because I am quite certain that, as important as work is to our identities—men or women—family means more. Women still identify as mothers and wives, but, typical of our time, mothers and wives with a lot to give in other areas of life. Which leads to another question: “What is the secret to work-life balance?” Again, you won’t often see the answers. The variety of responses, however, is interesting. They range from “balance of mind, body and soul” to “I don’t even try.” (The qualification: Sometimes professional obligations are the priority. Sometimes personal responsibilities prevail.)
It seems there is no one-size answer to that one, but work-life balance is still a core issue for women in a way it is not for most men. We all want to get to the kids’ games, pitch in with chores at home, chauffeur the gang when need be, and though plenty of men cook their share of dinners, take turns on overnight feedings and do a few loads of laundry, the family often looks to Mom first, and even if they don’t, she still feels the greatest sense of responsibility for making sure things happen.
It’s something to keep in mind as you read about the women profiled here. I, for one, am astonished that anyone finds time to publish a newspaper, run a university or manage an entire division of a major multinational corporation and still plan birthday parties, organize the soccer boosters, cook the holiday dinners or coordinate the kids’ college tours. But these women do it every day, as they have for years. They might not all have a ready answer to the secret of work-life balance, but their example is enough. (Gentlemen, we would do well to study them.)
Also in this issue, you’ll read travel writer Marilyn Odesser-Torpey’s picks for easy-to-reach great winter getaways and assistant editor Danielle Bouchat-Friedman’s roundup of great holiday gifts from our local museum shops. You’ll get a peek at holiday fashion as styled by creative director Gigi Hunt. And writer Michael J. Bradley explains what’s next for Fred Sears, outgoing director of the Delaware Community Foundation. The two can seem one and the same, so Fred’s retirement is a seismic shift. We thank him for his many years of leadership and wish him the best.