Since its release just over two weeks ago, much has been said and written about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead. I am not one of Sheryl's haters, in fact, having had the opportunity to witness her speak on a number of occasions while we both worked at Google, I can testify that she is a truly inspirational woman. However, I feel that her story only represents one type of woman, the successful woman in business who also has children.
The beauty of modern technology is that it has vastly speeded up communication and the transmission of information, helping businesses to become more efficient and productive. But this acceleration poses a real challenge for many small business owners who can get left behind if they aren't "up to speed". But for the women entrepreneurs in these same areas those difficulties are multiplied by cultural traditions that often prevent them from being included in local business networks and markets.
It's incredibly difficult to get a part-time job, especially if you are professional, qualified and reasonably well-paid. Too many companies aren't open to the part-time option or to job-shares. Too many women are trapped in the job they have. There is nowhere else to go. It's worse if you have had a baby without the security of a job to go back to. It took me years to get a part-time position, and I know I am not alone. In fact, I have been banging on about this, and the waste of a whole tranche of intelligent, well qualified women, for years.
A week before I'm due to leave for Kabul to take up the position, there's a devastating suicide bombing in Kabul at a supermarket frequented by many foreigners. A prominent human rights lawyer, her husband and three little children were killed, along with a French film maker and two Afghan security guards.
In 2000 I was diagnosed with stress related depression. Until that moment I thought I was superwoman and could do it all; run a home, rear a child and succeed at the job I loved and do it all to the highest standard, with no concern for my own health and wellbeing. I was on a hamster wheel created entirely by myself.
We've all been there at some stage, haven't we? You're desperately in need of a holiday (a week in Kos or maybe something more exotic) but your partner/mates are far too busy with their hectic work lives. So what do you do? Wait until someone's free (but it seems like you've waited months already) - OR go on your own? Yes! You could go on holiday on your own!