How can a woman reaching for the height of career success balance her role as a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a partner? At the top of the ladder, it’s very difficult for any man or woman to balance an uber career with the role of being a parent without a great support system—be they friends, family members, or a spouse. Clearly, a choice must be made, and there will be some sacrifices on the part of both the mother and her support system. But perhaps there are options we have today that did not exist 60 years ago for men and women. And one of them is longevity. There are countless examples of highly successful, powerful individuals performing at exceptional levels. And these individuals are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. If our lifespan is considerably longer than in the 1950s and 1960s, a career path takes on a different time dimension. Starting the climb while giving children a strong family foundation should work for men and women. Stepping on the accelerator a little later in life should also work. Perspective and patience in career-building will allow us to balance care for our children, which is job number one, with career advancement, which is important for women and men.
Over almost thirty years in the financial industry, I have paid particular attention to the issue of women and financial literacy. Gone are the days when women can take a passive role to understanding all aspects of money management for a family. And older women should serve as role models and advisors to children and grandchildren, encouraging investments in 401(k) programs, Roth IRAs, and personal finance education. You will hear a great deal of noise this election season about social security as a retirement program. It was only meant to be a minimum safety net for retirees. In the past and in the future, each individual worker must be responsible for saving and investing money for their retirement.
Closing the Deal:
When I look at the women in our state and in national circles who have attained great success, they share a common attribute which I will call “closing the deal.” In business, education, philanthropy, and politics, these women are competing with men because they are smart, disciplined, and hard-working. But the edge of success has to do with the skill and courage to close the deal. The close could be asking for a contribution, closing a business deal, closing a contract negotiation, or reaching an agreement on behalf of a company or organization. Given traditional gender norms and societal expectations, it is a skill-set that many women struggle with, and it should be given more emphasis in business schools and training programs in all fields. There may be something challenging and different about how women make a strong close in business settings, but throughout history, we’ve always embraced innovation. And, as female leaders innovate to close the deal, they open opportunity for future generations of women—and men—to lead and prosper in our state and country.
So as I touch the 60th milestone, I see an America with expanded opportunities and exciting hope for the future. The next generation of leaders has had a history of more progressive gender roles and issues of diversity at all levels. My only regret is I will not be able to share in the excitement of the next sixty years of progress.
Jill Docking has worked in the financial services industry since 1988 and is a long-time resident of Wichita. She has been active in her community as a member of several boards, including: the Sedgwick County Historical Society, the African American Museum of Sedgwick County, Mid Kansas Simulation Center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Sedgwick County, the University of Kansas Endowment, KU Medical School Wichita, the Dana Farber Advisory Board, and the Board of Trustees of Newman University. In 2007, Jill was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents by Governor Kathleen Sebelius and served as Chair of the Regents. In 1999, she founded the Financial Fitness Foundation, a non-profit focused on teaching financial literacy in the K-12 school system. In 1993, Docking became the first woman to receive a gubernatorial appointment as the Commanding General of the Kansas Cavalry.