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Is there a supportive man behind every successful woman?

I’ve had a number of conversations recently regarding the role men can play in advancing women.  I’ve written before about engaging the good guys at work, because while ever men dominate leadership roles in our companies and workplaces, we won’t achieve realistic change without them.  But what about the role of men at home – must you have a supportive partner in your personal life in order to realize your full career potential?

A number of the women leaders I’ve interviewed and seen speak in the past have credited their husbands and partners with enabling them to continue their careers and indeed excel in their chosen field.  Having a supportive partner, they say, is critical to their success.  Sue Morpet, CEO of Pacific Brands, said this in a speech two years ago at the CEW annual dinner; Lynn Wood, Chairman of Noni B Limited said it at our Ascend development day in Sydney this year; and our own Governor General Quentin Bryce has also said it about her husband.  Indeed at the IWDA anniversary celebration last week at Admiralty House in Sydney, I asked the Governor General’s husband – Mr Michael Bryce – about the supporting role he plays and he gladly shared with me many examples of the contribution he makes. (It must help that some of the “official” tasks including keeping company with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall while our Governor General officiates with the Prince of Wales, as he shared with me recently – that would be fascinating!)

When we look at our Prime Minister Julia Gillard, we see a woman who’s never been married, doesn’t have children, and openly admits she chose a career over family.  She has a partner now though, and says she finds him a great support.  For my part, I enjoyed a successful career before I met my husband, however I know that he is now pivotal in my happiness, wellbeing, and career management.  He’s not a househusband or stay at home dad (do they actually exist, anyway – or are they just a media myth?) but he’s always a great supporter and my number 1 fan, cheering me on from the sidelines particularly when things go pear-shaped (as they can and often do now that I have my own small business). 

So what’s your take – do you think there’s a supportive man behind every successful woman?  Or do you have a different story to tell? 


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