Balancing Work and Family

I just read this piece on the WSJ’s blog, The Juggle, about Zoe Cruz. If you’re not familiar with her, she was close to becoming the first female CEO on Wall Street until she lost her job. She was the co-president at Morgan Stanely, bringing home $30 million in 2006. She is also the mother of three.

http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/05/02/zoe-cruz-and-playing-down-your-mom-status-at-work/?mod=WSJBlog

After reading the quick summary of Zoe Cruz on the WSJ blog, I decided I better go read the entire piece on her from New York Magazine because the story of the rise and fall of one of the most powerful women on Wall Street must surely be a complex one.

And indeed it is. At first glance of the WSJ blog entry, it would be easy to want to attack Zoe Cruz. We could judge her for the fact that she had 3 children but fielded phone calls from work while in labor, worked 16 hour days and fought AGAINST Morgan Stanley allowing flex-time for other working moms.  That one, in particular, really annoyed me.

But again – we’re talking about a woman reaching the levels of a Wall Street firm that no other woman has yet reached – so getting to that point is no small task.

So I read the very long piece on her in New York Magazine and I urge you to go read it. It’s really a story of two things. The biggest is a woman rising to the top in the male-dominated old-school world of Wall Street. You’ll reach your own conclusions on how she did it but my quick reaction is this – in order to reach the top, she had to act like a man – take no prisoners, tough as hell, always on the defense and busting her ass. She wanted to be successful and to achieve that level of success, she couldn’t be waxing poetic about her children all day long or missing conference calls to relieve the nanny. Like it or not, that’s the reality.

So, the feminist in me, wants to cheer her on because, though she was fired, she fought like hell and rose to a new level and, inevitably inspired women around her, whether they liked her or not.

Then there’s the mom side of me. Of course, I admired the fact that if her daughter needed cookies for school, she was up at 4am making them herself. Find me a man with that career, making $30 million a year, that’s going to get up at 4am to bake his kid some cookies. Right? But why did she have to perpetuate the kind of work-place environment that will inhibit future generations of women from reaching the higher levels of major corporations like Morgan Stanley by fighting against flex-time? Did she do that because she wasn’t afforded that opportunity and believes that to succeed in the cut-throat world of finance, you have to act like a man? While that was most certainly the case for her in the 80s and early 90s, does that always have to be the case? Until women who are reaching these levels, no matter what they had to sacrifice and compromise in their own lives, recognize that working moms are NOT the same as working dads, then do we really have a dog in this fight?

The flip side of me wonders this – is that fair to make that the burden of Zoe Cruz? Just cause she was the lone wolf at the top – is it fair to judge her for making a decision against other women?

I think so. Because aren’t we talking about fighting the old boy’s network? She knows about that way more than any of us do.

Anyhow kittens, I encourage you to go read the piece about her and let me know what you think:

http://nymag.com/news/business/46476/

One Response to Balancing Work and Family
  1. chrissy
    May 21, 2008 | 4:01 pm

    I heard a story on NPR last night about Spain’s new Defense Minister giving birth. Apparently Spain is in an uproar about how a pregnant woman could lead the army, and who was protecting the country while she was in labor. Another example of a woman at the top fighting the battle for equality, in spite of motherhood.

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