Reflecting on priorities of family & work

A Future Vision for My Headstrong Daughter

My daughter has been described by others and me as headstrong, strong-willed, stubborn, fiercely independent, competitive, and a limit-pusher. These are attributes more traditionally assigned to boys than girls and are too often seen as negative traits in girls and women. I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s series on Women at Work in the New York Times. These articles examine gender bias through both a researcher and practitioner lens. They bring to light how my daughter’s traits would not serve her well in many work environments and that there are many things that can be done – some simple, some complex – to help improve culture and climate for women at work.

Fortunately for me and my daughter, I work in a rapidly-growing, fast-paced, innovative organization founded and lead by women. I work everyday with role-models for my daughter – intelligent, driven, strategic, visionary, analytical, mission-driven, thoughtful women getting s%!t done on a daily basis to make the world a better place. They are, at the same time, dedicated mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, aunts, and friends. I didn’t realize how lucky I would be when I started two years ago to be in an organization lead predominantly by women and how that would impact the ways I can relate to my daughter. I thank them all. In them, I see a future vision for her.

I prefer to look at my daughter and other girls and young women with her same traits as empowered, driven, focused, resilient, and tenacious – words with much more positive connotations for girls. We have come a long way as a society in regards to equality for women at work and still have a ways to go. Here’s hoping we get there in time for my daughter and other girls like her. One of the best things I can do is nurture those amazing qualities in my daughter and defend those qualities when bias against them is present. No one has ever made a difference in this world without being headstrong, strong-willed, stubborn, fiercely independent, competitive, and a limit-pusher and my daughter is destined to make a difference in the world.

Sheryl Sandberg has it right – we have too few women leaders. Add one more with my daughter.

I am in a work environment and role where my job is to help leaders (mostly women) be successful. Isn’t that my job as a father to my daughter as well?

3 comments on “A Future Vision for My Headstrong Daughter

  1. Kat H
    February 20, 2015

    No wonder she and Kassie are such good friends! You outline here the same conversations Ben and I often have about her and what the future will hold for her, as well as our boys. Love that so many possibilities will be open to all of them!


  2. Annmarie
    February 20, 2015

    It also seems evident to me that your daughter has strong and positve role models at home, especially in her mother! I have always been curious what drives some people to be headstong?Sometimes that trait is born out of spite due to being discounted or flat out told that they are not able to accomplish their goals, but more often I believe people have an innate sense of detection of how authentic their role models are when they express confidence in their abilty. When we shower our children in shallow praise we may be suggesting to them that we really doubted they were able…perhaps undermining their self confidence?


    • DadWorking
      February 21, 2015

      Maya seems to have come out of the womb that way, Annmarie. One of her first words were “noidoit” (no, I do it). I agree she has great positive female role models around her, but while most (like Amy) are empowered, confident, and competent, they are not headstrong in the way that Maya is. I agree with your shallow praise. We work on praising effort, grit, determination, and the process as opposed to the achievement and try to express how they should be proud of themselves along with us being proud of them.


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