One of the best things about having a blog is being able to throw something out into the ethosphere and encourage people to talk about it. The conversations I have here, with you, are some of my favorites. We both sit behind computer screens, but we’re still talking. Sometimes we talk about super touchy feely stuff, like not being able to breastfeed your baby, and sometimes we talk about fun stuff, like what we did on our trip to Sicily, or how to create a beautiful table setting. Sometimes we talk about ice cream and salads. Sometimes, we talk about cinnamon rolls. Today, I’d like to talk about something very important to me: female leadership in the workforce. We can discuss the topic over some cake. Cool?
As I was driving to work, as I do every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, this story came on NPR. You should really read/listen to it over on NPR’s website because I think it’s one of those things some of you might feel passionately about, too. The gist of the story is that women in emerging economies (commonly referred to as the ‘BRIC’ nations, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China) seem to be kicking ass. More ass that we women here in America are. Wait, I thought America was the land of opportunity? It’s why immigrants, including my parents, move here to send their kids to American schools and colleges, to pursue careers in competitive fields like engineering and science and medicine. To have more freedom in life and in work.
There’s been a lot of talk about why many women who are perfectly capable of being leaders ‘lean back,’ to use Sheryl Sandberg’s term. Many of us sit along the sidelines as our male counterparts pursue C-level jobs. Many of us drop out of the workforce entirely when we start having kids, and we find it difficult to dive back in after an extended break. But hold on. According to economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s research of women in these BRIC countries, it sounds like those women aren’t just leaning in (to use Sheryl Sandberg’s term again), they’re jumping in. And they’re not giving up having children. And they don’t seem to be apologizing for it (at least not that the article mentioned). There are a number of factors that seem to allow women in these countries seemingly more freedom to return to work (for example: nearby extended family that can help with childcare) but one of the most interesting takeaways from the article for me was this sentence:
Still, better child care alone will not close the gender gap in the United States. Hewlett says that what American women need most is a change in the narrative. “I remember very clearly going to a Wall Street Journal conference, and Andrea Jung, the then-CEO of Avon, was speaking. She’s an incredibly impressive person,” Hewlett says. And yet, instead of talking about the joys of her success, “she chose to talk about what she had given up.”
Now that I’m back at work full-time, I find myself wondering what I’m giving up: more time at home with my daughter. But what do I gain by being a part of the workforce? Quite a bit, not least of which is the satisfaction in knowing that I’m paving the way for my daughter to one day do the same. Like many women, I’m finding myself struggling to find the balance, but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how nice it has been to return to a professional environment and to have a little help with Neko at home. For a while, I found myself apologizing for having these feelings; cushioning the fact that I was glad to be back to the grind with statements about how hard it was to be away from my daughter. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s also not a reason (for me, at least) to step away from a fulfilling career, and to want to accomplish more for myself and, ultimately, for my daughter.
I’d love to know what you (both men and women) think about this topic! And as promised, I’ve whipped up an easy and delightful skillet cake for us to share.
Blackberry Almond Skillet Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart
1 1/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup of almond meal
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
1/2 cup of low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 large eggs
7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon for the skillet
2 containers of fresh blackberries (5.6 ounces each)
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, Meyer lemon juice, and melted butter.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
4. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to a 10-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) and place it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Swirl the butter to coat the skillet, then pour in the batter (use a silicone spatula to evenly spread the batter over the surface of the pan).
5. Scatter blackerries on top and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
6. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Blackberry Almond Skillet Cake + Lô Borges e Milton Nascimento – Clube Da Esquina
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