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Panel marries careerism and family

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shades of Ebony hosted the Sister Jean Roundtable on “Different Paths: The Intersection of Career and Family,” on Tuesday as part of Women’s Week.

The group invited Iris Outlaw, Alyssia Coates and Christine Caron-Gebhardt to speak about their experiences balancing career and family life as females.

Caron-Gebhardt, director of the Gender Relations Center, said there was one question that always scared her.

“I remember the one question that always came up was, ‘Can a woman have it all? Can you have it all?’” Caron-Gebhardt said.

Outlaw, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services, said at the beginning of her career, she was working a full-time job, going to school and trying to maintain her home, which was busy with a husband and two kids. She said it was hard, but she pursued what she felt was right in her heart.

Coates, who is the director of Office of Admissions Outreach and Engagement Recruiting, said sacrifices will have to be made, but that should not discourage women from pursuing all they want.

“You are going to make sacrifices. I can’t say to you the choices that I’ve made aren’t sacrifices,” Coates said. “But you have to balance it with what’s important to you.

“What is it that you really want to do and how do you want to express the call in your life to the rest of the world?”

Caron-Gebhardt said some of those sacrifices relate to her kids, because she is not always able to be as present as she wants to be, which can lead to feelings of guilt. However, this journey requires women to be conscious of their hearts.

“You have to be compassionate with yourself because you’re going to mess up,” Caron-Gebhardt said. “But if you are compassionate with yourself and those around you, it can be a journey that is going to be happy.”

Outlaw said women can balance feelings of guilt by realizing that they do not have to compartmentalize each part of their lives.

Each of the women said they always try to involve their kids in their work life.

The panel agreed that the relationships women are surrounded by are of ultimate importance in achieving integration and balance.

“I needed to seek those relationships that were going to allow me to be who I was,” Caron-Gebhardt said.  “I have a sisterhood of women that are invaluable to me … I’ve journeyed with these women, and these women have journeyed with me.”

Coates said it’s important to remember when pioneering personal experiences that there are women who have gone through similar experiences.

“When you’re the first to do something … it’s very hard because there’s nobody else in your group that can help foster what you need to know … so it’s the people that come around you, the other women, … that speak words of wisdom to you,” Coates said.


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About Emma Borne

Emma Borne started as a news writer for the Observer in Fall 2013. She is a senior majoring in Sociology and Peace Studies. She loves writing for the Observer because it allows her to participate in campus life in a way that she otherwise wouldn't and because she gets to work with some super talented, awesome people!

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