The Emerging Identity of Women
by Marcia Reynolds, Author of Wander Woman: How
High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction
There is a new generation of women in the workplace. They grew up in the
self-help era with more confidence than the women who came before them. In fact,
the majority of the women at work today represent the first generation of women
who were told they could accomplish anything they put their mind to.
Additionally, with the passing of Title IX in the United States in the
1970's, sports programs for girls flourished and women have now outnumbered men
in college degrees. These trends can be found around the world wherever women
have a chance to go to school and be active in sports. As a result, there are an
increasing number of women who believe they are strong in their bodies as well
as their minds. Plus, the increase in college degrees gives women more ways to
The magazine stands and self-help books do not reflect this emerging identity
of women. These are not a sect of women who act like men. Today's smart, strong
women have the drive like men but still have the sensitivity of women. Instead
of playing it safe, they crave frequent new challenges to conquer. They love
being busy and hate feeling bored. They want to be valued, respected and
recognized and will work hard to deserve it. They struggle when they feel
pigeon-holed, underutilized, micro-managed, slowed down, and ignored. These
women don't need to be taught assertiveness skills. They ask for what they want.
Then as soon as they feel that they are being treated unfairly or with
disrespect, they begin to look for another job or start planning to own their
Many strong, smart women look at their jobs as training for when they can
break out and be an entrepreneur. They don't make plans to climb one corporate
ladder. Statistics that bemoan the lack of women in the boardroom do not take
into account that many women are choosing another path.
The question of being a corporate executive or not is not the biggest issue
on their minds. More than titles and money, they want motion and meaning.
However, this desire fuels a restlessness as they constantly need to find
"something more" in their lives.
Therefore, the downside is not that these women are giving up their
femininity. Instead, they are giving up their peace of mind.
It is wonderful that girls are now brought up believing in their greatness.
But having the goal of "being great" is as hard to define as it is to achieve.
There is always "the next great thing" to master, which leaves them feeling
exhausted and incomplete. I have come to call this phenomenon the "Burden of
If you recognize the Burden in yourself, it is likely your gifts of
intelligence, resourcefulness, courage and determination have also been a
burden. Some days you wonder if it is all worth it. You hunger for a day of rest
and long for a chance to pamper your body. You laugh when someone suggests you
need life balance. The best you can do is balance your energy as you go about
your busy day. You can still love your friends, your partner and your children,
but you know there will always be an internal struggle about how you show your
There is both a light and a dark side to this emerging identity of women.
It's time the books recognize this phenomenon and help these women meet their
challenges while getting what they desire.
The research plus exercises for helping smart, strong women can be found in
Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction, by Marcia
Reynolds, PsyD. Read more at
© 2010 Marcia Reynolds, author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find
Contentment and Direction
Author Bio Dr. Marcia Reynolds is fascinated by the brain, especially the
nuances of the female brain. She is a master certified coach with a doctorate in
organizational psychology, focusing on the needs and challenges of smart, strong
women in the workplace. She travels around the world speaking at conferences and
teaching classes in leadership, emotional intelligence and organizational
change. Her book Wander Woman: How High Achieving Women Find Contentment and
Direction was released this summer.
You can read more about the book at
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