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I can't find any help or someone to discuss with about my problems and questions so I'm writing to you. (Sorry my English writing maybe bad sometimes, my first language is French.)

I feel weird since I'm young a kid, now I'm 32 year old woman. I'm working hard and I have good job in multi-media industry and I have a good salary. I'm surrounded by men and I'm pretty good with technical and computer job tasks. I think I can say I'm pretty too. But I have the impression that the fact I'm a women I will never grad to a director position at my job or it would be harder for me the achieve that. Even if sometimes I'm smarter then my men colleagues when we have to resolve problems at the job, I can feel some discomfort from them about me being very good at work. I need to speak louder all the time in the meetings and be mad while talking, else nobody will listen to me. Is that can be possible? Am I surrounded by men who don't have any references about how a woman should be at work so each time I'm talking or say something about technical stuff to do I have that 'file not found' feeling from them? There is competition I think. I do feel I'm lacking references too since I don't know any women having a cool career.

Another thing, I can't look at a movie or any TV shows where I can see gender prejudice or women being associated to the weak or entertaining gender, I'm just tired of that (I feel it's always the same scrap). And I'm not sure my boyfriend understand that, he thinks I'm yelling all the time without any reasons. How am I supposed to deal with that? I've dated several men in my 20s and lot of them asked me: are you feminist, because I don't like that... they told me. Since I'm heterosexual and I like to date men or be with my boyfriend, what I'm supposed to do? Because I really think my success would be better with the men if I don't say nothing all the time, stay quiet and be pretty and kind, follow them into there things and career without having too time consuming job or hobbies.

Last question, I'm thinking about having a baby, but what I saw that here in the US that women don't have support from the government to have children. In Canada, a women would have 1 year vacation with 50% of her salary when she is pregnant. This one year can be shared with her husband/partner if they want to. And you have government professional baby/kid sitting and pre-school fees for $5 a day too if you are not a rich person. Here in the U.S. we have nothing!!! And for a women like me doing a good salary and doing great you really have to make a choice here: be a career woman or an house wife with a rich husband. Plus we need to marry, you can' t be just partners and have government benefits. How can I stay independent and have a healthy-balanced relationship with my man if I will need to marry and 100% count on him for the money part if we decide to raise a children? And at work I'm working very hard to gain my 'good with technical tasks' reputation, I'm afraid to fall into the useless pregnant women when I'm going to be pregnant at work and miss 2 vacation weeks to have my baby. Is there secret trick to achieve it successfully and keep my productive career at the same time?
Thanks a lot!


Many of the issues that you inquire about directly relate to a new book that I have just published — Opting In: Having A Child Without Losing Yourself. I talk both about how limited the U.S. is when it comes not only to government support, but also to our attitudes about pregnancy and child rearing. Not that I have all of the answers, but I do propose some thoughts on how to correct this. Also, on your career and relationships — I think that it is much harder for women to achieve the same level of success as men — not because someone "stops" them or because they can't — but simply because women are more likely to want and ask for balance in their lives and women are more likely to plateau their careers — to ask for more vacation time in lieu of more money — or a bit of both.

So there are certainly examples out of there of women who have been unapologetically successful and that's great, but more often then not I think that women opt for a lifestyle over career success. And in terms of men — men's success scares women — just like men who take on childrearing scare some women — I think that our traditional roles are very entrenched and it's hard for us to see beyond them  or threatening to who we are or suppose to be. That said, I think that men certainly benefit from having successful and independent women in their lives — if they have a life, they are less dependent on theirs for utter fulfillment — that said, some men are accustomed to women "needing" them and don't know how to operate when they are free from that dependence.