Part of my purpose is starting this blog is to explore how women navigate a career and personal life. To that end, I’m going to start posting mini-interviews with women at all stages of their career, to document the diversity of experiences and meanings of ‘having it all’. Starting off is women very dear to me, who’s had an immeasurable positive influence on me.
She is a
musician working in and around the church.
If you’d be willing to share your experiences, I would love to hear about
them. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ‘interview’ is really
just a series of questions! All ages, disciplines, stages of career, are
When you were a little
girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember having
limited choices available culturally - nurse or teacher - neither appealed
to me. I remember my dad telling my brothers when he was frustrated
with his career, "Don't ever be an electrical engineer" and telling
us girls "don't ever marry an electrical engineer". And even though
my mom taught piano I never thought I would be a musician professionally.
How did you decide to
start on your current career?
That implies that I really had a plan and knew what I
was doing! I feel more like I wandered around through life. I did love playing
music and playing it loud on the organ! I really didn't have any mentors or
help in figuring out what jobs were even possible - and did music jobs after
college (and while in college and graduate school) because it was
something I knew about and was good at and enjoyed; all good reasons to
continue on that path. Of course the decisions not to pursue some
possibilities- graduate school in organ performance, premed in college -
were also path makers, too.
Are you happy with
your current job in relation to what you hoped for?
I feel truly blessed
that I've been able to make a steady income as a musician. I know I am the
exception to the rule. There are many things I love about my job, such as
flexibility, bringing people together to make magical music, working in a place
with high moral values, and family friendly, which makes up for the small
Did you ever
experience a ‘glass ceiling’ or discrimination as a woman? Are you willing to
share your experience?
church work we call it the "Stained Glass Ceiling" and yes I have.
Most of the high paying, full time, highly visible music director positions are
held by men. It is hard when people complement you by saying you play
like a man. I was once denied a job because of my husband's religion. But
things have improved for women in jobs as music directors and as pastors and
church leaders in most progressive denominations, that is a good thing!
Part of my path was influenced, like so many other parents, by the
decision not to pursue work full time (these positions are rare and would have
meant moving around) to have time with children and spouse and be close to our
What does ‘having it
all’ mean to you personally? Do you feel like you can/have achieve(d) it?
"Having it all" for me means finding
a fulfilling, meaningful balance in my life, relationships, and career.
Most days I think I have it! But others looking at my salary, my lack of
free weekends or the two day equivalent of time off, and my lack of the latest
material possessions may not see that. I'll admit that the times raising
small children were very challenging, with not enough time and patience -
which is why it was so good for me to balance parenting with
working my jobs and having adult conversations. My
husband's ability to work part time (because of his chosen field) and his
job's benefits, and his willingness and ability to share so
many responsibilities, have made it possible for me to do the job I
have now. I don't know how I could have made it without him for a life
partner - another great blessing in my life and career. But the
decision for neither of us to work full-time has meant financial
sacrifices (relatively speaking - we still live such privileged lives
compared to most people in the world) and seeing our friends be able to do
things that we cannot.
Did/do you have to worry about
when/if to have children?
we waited several years, and then it took over a year before children
came along. We made the decision along the way to wait until my husband was through
with school and were financially stable enough. But we always
knew we would have children someday - my husband more so than me.
How can we encourage women
to pursue their dream jobs? Role models, mentoring, cultural
permission to work and have a family life, demanding equal pay for equal work,
valuing parenting as a huge benefit to our society (as well as other things,
too - volunteering, mentoring), national support for children in terms of
services and finances.