As mothers across the United States receive the obligatory macaroni necklaces and breakfast in bed from their adoring children, many women still struggle to find a receptive work environment which enables them to thrive both as parents and professionals.
Over the sea in Israel, a mere 31% of managerial positions in the country’s leading companies are held by women. Despite this gloomy statistic, there are companies who are positively brimming with female leadership including the leading Golan Heights Winery. In addition to the winery being home to Israel’s first female winemaker, three of the prominent members have shattered the famed glass ceiling and risen to the top, not only as women but as proud mothers.
Anat Levi, CEO of the Winery met the rigorous challenge of acquiring her leading position while raising four children. She was selected as the only woman to compete against eight men in a grueling regime of diagnostic tests and interviews. When she proved to be the best candidate for the job, Levi became the winery’s first female CEO and an example of one of Israel’s leading female businesswomen.
Yet for many women, the obstacle of landing a job is only half the challenge. Once in the position, mothers constantly have to balance between a screaming child and a pressing deadline or between birthday parties and business meetings. This arduous task is enough to leave many in tears by the end of Harry Chapin’s heartrending “Cats and the Cradle” and often a tug-of war takes place in a mother’s conscious.
As the stress of conflicting priorities may become monumental to mothers, Debby Shoham, head of the wine training department and mother of a four year old, explains that it all comes down to gaining support of your loved ones. “Realistically you must understand the combination of roles you have and cannot get bogged down by guilt for spending time at the office.”
On the flip side, it is important to clearly define one’s priorities. Levi explains that from day one in her position she never shied away from her role as mother. “I announced publically that family comes first and my colleagues in the office understood, even though that sometimes means I have to leave earlier.”
Yael Gai, international sales and marketing manager and mother of four, explains that taking a leadership role in her career has positively affected her four children. “My career, as well as my husband’s, has shown our children that if you invest and do things seriously you can succeed and achieve in life. I already see the fruits of this today reflected in my children, in the manner they go about their studies and the additional responsibilities they take upon themselves to reach their own significant achievements.” Shoham adds that success at work can lead to success as a mother, and she concludes, “a happy mother makes a happy child.”
Gai contends that in order to make it in the work force you have to have drive and perseverance. “If you really want it you cannot give up,” explains Gai, “You cannot put yourself and your needs last, but must always look where to balance the important things. Choose personally and decide what points are significant to you and don’t give up on them.”
While Mother’s Day only comes around once a year, take this opportunity to show appreciation for the women who are striving to reach the top as both mothers and professionals. Gai has her fingers crossed for a bottle of her favorite Yarden Pinot Noir, a home cooked meal and some quality family time. No matter how you plan on celebrating the day, allow Gai’s message to permeate your thoughts, as she warns, “do not give up on yourselves, because that is a guaranteed recipe for failure.” Levi agrees and adds, “you need to work hard, be honest, above all else be a human being and make it clear what is important in life and what is secondary.”
By Rachel Stern Siegman -TJL