I just read part of an article in Newsweek about a “leadership lid” for women. Sarah Palin notwithstanding, women are still not making it into the upper echelon of business, law, banking, you name it. Every time I read about these inequalities, it just makes me wonder: what if they’re not there because they don’t want to be? Isn’t it unfair to hold women up to a measure of success as created and defined by men — and then find them lacking?

I am a smart, capable woman. I probably could have gone far in business, academia, perhaps even law. Instead, I chose to go far within myself, putting my family first and my career second. I’m pretty sure my mom made the same choice around my age, and it has taken her to heights of success that she could not have imagined at that time in her life. But it’s true, she’s not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Nor do I think she would want to be. Instead, she has built a great career and raised two children to adulthood, who are now mostly sane and well-balanced individuals in their own right. And, unlike certain high-powered women currently in the political spotlight, neither of us had teenage pregnancies (or foisted them on others, in the case of my brother).

My mother is and has always been a wife and mother first, career woman second. Yes, that does mean she doesn’t have a private yacht, a closet full of Armani, or her face on the cover of magazines. But I’m pretty sure that’s OK with her. I have made and will continue to make similar choices, choices that allow me to put the intangibles before tangible career success. This does not mean that I am lacking in ambition, talent, or intelligence. It simply means that my intelligence lies elsewhere, and you can’t measure in the same concrete way as say a successful politician or the partner of a prestigious law firm.

I realize that I’m coming off as extremely sexist. Don’t get me wrong — of course I think women should have equal opportunities, and it’s a shame that institutionalized sexism can still keep women from attaining all that they are capable of doing. But when examining the evidence for claims like these, I think it often goes overlooked that women are different, biologically and emotionally. They have different goals and priorities than men do, and they make vastly different choices. Measuring them by the Fortune 500 rubric and then saying they don’t add up only devalues the choices and contributions that they do make on a daily basis.

Trust me — I’m pretty sure that women can do just about anything they put their minds to. So if they still aren’t as prevalent in the upper ranks of leadership, even in this day and age, then that makes me pretty damn sure that their minds might be elsewhere.

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