Why Female CEOs Need a Wife – Or At Least at Stay-At-Home Husband
Anyone — man or woman — who hopes to rise to the position of C.E.O. needs a big support system. In the past, “People used to say that men needed a wife at home and a wife at the office – the traditional secretary,” Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter said in a recent New York Times article. “Now women need the same thing: an assistant at work and a stay-at-home husband or at least a husband who’s very flexible and supportive. Anyone who hopes to be a corporate chief executive needs a big support system.”
When asked what men could do to help advance women’s leadership, Ms. Kanter, author of the landmark Men and Women of the Corporation, answered, “The laundry.”
There’s still a social stigma for the stay-at-home or less successful husband that women don’t face. And management experts say that that has to change if women are going to be represented in the top jobs at a level commensurate with their numbers and talent.
“Women are not going to say, ‘My husband is not as successful as he could have been because he’s been supporting me,’ ” Ms. Kanter went on to say. “It would be seen as putting him down. But when the shoe is on the other foot, men say, ‘She really helped me.’ People say, ‘Isn’t it wonderful that he has someone who allows him to focus on his work?’ This is culturally valued.”
Statistics suggest that people who aspire to America’s top corporate jobs had better have a spouse, partner or someone else willing to be devoted to their career.
While this is common sense, common sense usually takes a vacation when it comes to dating and relationships. While alpha males might be attracted to alpha females, the most common and successful relationships occur where partners have different roles. If both people are working 60 hours a week, nobody has much to give to the relationship.
A CEO needs a really patient, supportive and understanding partner who’s going to stick by his/her side. Which is why this is a core principle of my dating coaching – date your complement, not your clone.