Jhaymee Wilson
The Superwoman Complex and The Case for Mr. Mom
Introduction  According to the Pew Research Center, women have outpaced men in education and earnings growth over the past several decades which has contributed to higher female enrollment in graduate school and increasing numbers of women business owners in the United States. Janice, a senior project manager in her late 20s, fits the profile of the classic "Superwoman". She is financially independent, educated, and determined to enter her company's executive suite by the age of 35. She was preparing for a client presentation when a surprise marriage proposal turned the outlook on her career and personal life upside down.
Background  To say that Janice was an overachiever is an understatement. Since graduating from The George Washington University in 2003, she opened a new business, switched jobs four times, sat on two non-profit Boards, earned 8 professional certifications, finished a Master's Degree, started a successful blog, and recently got engaged (in a romantic proposal on top of the Empire State Building). Needless to say, her passion for her career will probably continue well into her upcoming marriage. A couple of weeks ago, she sat down with her fiance, Matthew, to discuss their plans for the future, including the possibility of starting a family within the next two years. Almost immediately, Matthew says, "Well hun, I look forward to being Mr. Mom and supporting your success as a career woman." Imagine her shock and surprise! For the past 28 years, she never would have thought that the responsibility of raising and financially supporting a family would fall on her shoulders. Oddly enough, she's excited and looking forward to it. 

However, on a recent trip to her future in-laws's home on Long Island, NY, Matthew's parents expressed immediate concern and disagreement. Their traditional values of the "male breadwinner" seemed to bring doubt to their decision. In fact, they felt that Janice was suffering from the Superwoman Complex which is the belief that women are constantly trying to prove their independence and intelligence by assuming the dual role of Mom/Career Woman. Janice always assumed that she could handle both responsibilities successfully and be admired by friends and family for her ability to have it all. She could see herself coming home from a long day in the office to her husband who has prepared supper and completed the errands for the day (including taking the kids to soccer practice). To Janice, there was nothing wrong with her revamped, Modern day portrait of the American Dream. 

Professional issue Over the past three years at her consulting firm, Janice went from entry-level to senior management through hard work, networking, and proving her skills. She's been given the opportunity to partner with Vice Presidents and Directors on important employee engagement projects that had direct impact on improving attrition percentages, and she's won national awards for her achievements. An executive-level position is well within her reach. However, the culture at her current job is not as accepting of working mothers as other firms. Lack of robust maternity leave benefits and the absence onsite daycare make it difficult and challenging to balance work and life. As she flipped surfed the latest article in Forbes Woman, Janice thought about switching companies and continuing her career with a firm listed as one of the Top 100 for working mothers. However, given her current upward mobility and the weakened economy, the decision was not so easy.
Personal issue As her professional career continues its ascent, Janice wonders if she's making the right decision for her family by assuming the sole "bread winner"? Do working women make good wives and mothers? The next day as she headed into NYC on the Long Island Railroad to sightsee with Matthew, she read an amazing article from The New York Times entitled "She Works. They're Happy." which discusses the phenomena of stay at home dads and how traditional roles in the home have reversed for many households. While she agrees that women have the capacity to do it all, she wonders what effect it will have on her future husband's perception of his role in their household. If he changes his mind and decides that he wants to return to work, will she have to give up the career that she passionately loves? 
Wrap Up  As she stepped off of the train at Penn Station, Janice realized that she had some tough decisions to make that would have direct impacts on either professional career, her personal life, or both. Women are constantly balancing perceptions, expectations, and priorities to meet the shifting demands of societal norms. However, if she learned one thing from her life experiences, it was if you spend your entire life trying to please everyone, you'll never please yourself. As Janice and Kevin approached 7th Avenue, she smiled, looked at him and said, "I'll still let you hold the remote control." :)