The Google Doodle confirms it, March 8th is International Women's Day. Recent headlines would suggest that women's issues have rarely been more prominent in the national consciousness - for better or worse. But this annual recognition give us a chance to honor some of the great stories of female empowerment, progress, and leadership.
In that spirit, I would like to take a moment to honor the role that working mothers play in our industry. I was inspired by this book produced by global technology giant EMC, called "The Working Mother Experience." A project managed by employees, the book includes 96 first-person stories from the company's working moms around the world. Though it was published in 2009, its themes are enduring.
I must confess, Julia Hood 1.0 (as in, pre-children) would have rolled her eyes at the very concept of differentiating between women and mothers in the workplace. There are plenty of issues for women in general without segmentation.
But I have been harboring true remorse for the oblivious arrogance of my pre-motherhood self. I hope to atone for a bit of that now. Not so long ago, I really believed that powerful, successful women like those leading in PR could simply throw money at any child-rearing problem. It seemed incredible - literally not believable - to me that anyone would choose bedtime stories over board meetings, or to go to a pediatrician's appointment rather than a new-business pitch. After all, weren't there people you can pay to do that stuff?
Much of the time, in mission-critical situations certainly, work priorities win the day. But what Julia Hood 2.0 (slower processor, bigger case, but much better connectivity) learned, as a late-blooming mom, is that it is always, always a gut-wrenching, humbling choice.
I had my moment of humility rather early. My son was four-months old and clearly not feeling well. We had a super-duper babysitter, but on the way to the train station I was seized with an overwhelming feeling that there was no way I could leave him. I went home to take care of him, sobbing my guts out in frustration. I knew at that moment that my heart and my head had been colonized by a force even greater than my formidable ambition.
Four years later, I'm still figuring out the balance all the time. But I feel so much stronger because I'm part of this amazing community of communicators who get it, and live it. I am routinely inspired by so many of you, leaders, moms and absolutely crazy-hot brainiacs - Elise Mitchell of Mitchell Communications, Aedhmar Hynes of Text 100, Melissa Waggener of Waggener Edstrom, Jen Prosek of CJP, Gail Heimann of Weber Shandwick, Ame Wadler of Zeno Group, Aimee Grove of Allison & Partners, Stephanie Marchesi of Fleishman-Hillard, and so many more.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a small city with plenty of friendly bars to raise a working mom. I love that I'm now part of the club. Communications is fortunate to have so many outstanding people who have been down this road. Perhaps it's time for our own book, to celebrate successes, and ask more questions about how well women in general are progressing to the leadership ranks. There is much to celebrate, and still a great deal to be done.
In the meantime, vote for your favorite comms mom in the comments, or share your own story.