What's Holding You Back? 8 Critical Choices for Women's Success

By Linda S. Austin | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Breaking the
Psychological Glass Ceiling

No one will ever create a bolder vision of your life than you are able to envision for yourself.

IT WAS THE FIRST SESSION of a psychotherapy course I taught to the third-year psychiatry residents. "In what way," I asked brightly, "would each of you like to be great?"

I posed my question in part to warm the room, to encourage the residents to let me know them as individuals. But the question itself intrigued me, for I had begun to wonder how much of women's career trajectories was determined by whether they could dream of greatness.

The men in the group had a variety of responses, reflecting a mixture of personal and professional goals; almost all, however, said they wanted to be great psychiatrists. Six of the seven women in the group replied: "I want to be a great mother." Only one said, "I want to be a great doctor and a great mother."

I was truly taken aback by the women's responses. Their inability to dream of professional greatness astounded me because of who they were. Their average age was about thirty. Each had graduated with sterling grades from four-year colleges, then completed four years of medical

-xi-

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