Last week, in honour of International Women’s Week, I went to a lecture at Lucy Cavendish College at the University of Cambridge, by Honorary Fellow Baroness Janet Cohen, who talked about how she reached career success. At the end of her speech she gave several pieces of advice to the aspiring professional women in the audience including one you don’t hear that frequently, but that I think is increasingly apt: choose your partner very carefully. Why? Read on…
Her first husband was a merchant banker who wanted a wife to stay at home and entertain – she loved him but not his idea of how she should spend her time. The partnership did not last. Interestingly, much of her advice was antithetical to what many people today think of as good career advice – plan your career carefully and let love alone determine who you partner with. She advised choosing a supportive partner and then letting career opportunities come without a great "overarching 5 year plan". It clearly worked well for her – she was a Labour peer within the House of Lords and sits on the Board of the London Stock Exchange, among other appointments. Indeed I meet many women in legal practices who choose partners who have less demanding jobs than they, which provides the family with the support it needs whilst letting her continue her career and be the main breadwinner. The trouble seems to come more from pairings where both partners work in industries that demand long hours.
Did you give it much thought as to who you would marry regarding career trajectories?
How has that worked out for you?
Should more career women look before they leap when it comes to marrying an ambitious man who is likely to work long hours?