The XX Factor

Make Your Partner a Real Partner

Hanna , yes, Sheryl Sandberg is right that to achieve in her stratosphere, women need to keep their ambition in sharp focus, even as they start to think about having a family. That connects to Dahlia’s point about planning ahead: If you can think in a clear-headed way about the pieces you need in place to do the work you want to do, without getting overwhelmed by anxiety, then your odds go up. For me, the key point in Sandberg’s talk is also the linch pin to all of this: Make your partner a real partner. I would rephrase this as: Make sure ahead of time, as best you can, that your partner has it in him to be a real partner.

As in, make sure you have kids with someone who is down for the whole household count, who won’t assume that when the kid have the week off, you’ll be the one dealing. There is no advance test for this or contract to sign, but there are some pretty reliable signals. Does your partner walk the feminist walk by taking women who are high achievers in stride? Is he equally comfortable with men who see their wives’ careers as equal or even more important than their own? And what kind of work does he do-will he have the regularly spare hours that it takes to raise kids, unless you want to outsource them Mary Poppins style? When I talk to young women about this subject, I tell them to choose carefully. Not just their own career steps, but the person who will be walking alongside them.