Updated: Jan 30
Career Change = Growth
We all want to find meaning in our careers, but it’s often unclear how to achieve that. As children, teens and college students we think about “what we want to be when we grow up”, but never revisit the question once we’re in the workforce. Many of us fall into a career path after college or graduate school and never look back. Or we’ve been on auto-pilot in our current careers until this point. Or maybe you’re one of the many women who have taken a career break to care for others. In each case, it is unlikely that you have had the time, structure or peer support needed to consider and plan your next chapter.
There are more women in college, graduate school and in the workforce than ever before. However, women who invest in their education at the onset of their careers often don’t continue with professional development later on in life. Juggling work, family and other commitments, it often feels selfish to invest in ourselves. However, life events, priority shifts, and the pace at which the world is changing makes reinvention mandatory.
So how do women in midlife achieve meaning in their work life? Understanding how women’s careers are unique is critical. There has been little research on women’s career development, but what does exist demonstrates that women’s professional lives unfold differently:
There is a differential impact of family responsibilities on women’s careers
Women’s career development has a relationship-focused emphasis
Women’s under-representation in high levels of organizations constrains career progress
Women pivoting from an existing career or returning to the workforce after a break may also face additional barriers including:
Gender pay gap
Bias against mothers
But there are bright spots! Women are poised at mid-career to grow, often with decades of experience and wisdom from which to draw:
According to The Conference Board (2018), women 55+ represent 60% of the workforce today and are a rapidly growing segment.
Older women are typically more secure financially than when they were younger, so they often have more discretion over how to spend their time.
“Work” is not just a job or a source of income, but an occupation which women enjoy for the sense of purpose, social interaction, and continued intellectual growth it provides.
57% of women want to change careers; 32% are considering it. Leaving only 11% of women happy in their current work. There is great room for improvement here to motivate change (InHersight, 2018).
Women’s careers typically develop in three age-linked phases: achievement, endurance, and reinvention. In this framework, reinvention becomes a normal part of career progression, rather than something to be avoided (Career Development International, 2005).
Lifelong learning and updating your skills is now more commonly seen as part of the job, whether you work for yourself as an entrepreneur or within an organization. Trends have shifted to the mindset that everyone is “self-employed” to some extent.
Over three-quarters of women feel they should make a career change or return from their break. However, many don’t pursue it. There is a confidence-action gap at play. Often lack of connections is what holds women back. (InHerSight, 2019). What can jumpstart action is togetherness with other women whose perspectives and feedback can help women see their skills and talents in a new light.
Women Who Support Women are More Successful
Recent research in the Harvard Business Review (2019) Men and Women Need Different Networks to Succeed demonstrates that while both men and women benefit from having a network of well-connected peers across different groups, women who also have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay, while there was no link found for the success of men in terms of the gender composition of their inner circles. In addition to women being more successful, women with close professional networks are also happier!
Research also shows that women’s success depends on a particular kind of inner circle. The best inner circles for women were those in which the women were closely aligned and connected to each other but had minimal crossover between their networks.
This is Evolve’s special sauce and why our program will work for you.
"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." - Amy Poehler
Evolve brings mid-career women together to draw on the depth and breadth of their experience and learn from each other, creating meaningful paths through four phases of reinvention:
DISCOVER: Become a more integrated version of yourself through communal self-discovery. Make connections between your “superpowers”, transferable skills, and the life you want now.
AMPLIFY: Strengthen your voice and gain self-assurance from peers who recognize your value. Realize how much you have to offer them. Recognize how the most talented women experience imposter syndrome and combat it together.
REFRESH: Develop a professional profile to position yourself for success with a refreshed resume, LinkedIn profile, workplace tech skills and networking strategies, including your own “board of advisors”.
EMBARK: Leverage the Evolve community to connect with women mentors across generations, get out of your comfort zone, take risks and experiment with new roles. Continue the cycle -- discover how your vision becomes clearer each time you learn or try something new.
Reinvention that sticks: Don’t Just Go “Somewhere”
In order to create a reinvention process that sticks, it’s critical to go through each phase with the mindset of a learner. Be curious about yourself and get clear on where you want to go. Give yourself permission to take the time and invest in yourself. Through providing the structure, mentorship and the inner circle women need to catalyze change, Evolve makes it possible for women to emerge knowing “which way they want to go from here.”