It’s Not OK For Work To Hurt Our Hearts 3 Ways To Change How We Think About 'The Glass Ceiling'

5th October 2015

Posted In: The Topic

I had a very interesting interaction on LinkedIn this month. A wonderful woman, Shannon Katschilo posted a column called “Breaking Glass Ceilings can lead to a Broken Heart”. It was a sad, vulnerable and lovely story of how she felt heartbroken when one of her daughters opted to have Daddy be there when she woke up after having her appendix removed.

Words: Jennifer Kenny

Any mother who works outside of the home can relate to this and they did. 2,552 people viewed it, 283 liked it and 40 people commented. She concluded by saying that “And I will have to come to terms with the fact that the more glass ceilings I break, the more my heart will be broken.”

I had steam coming out my ears by the time I finished reading it and the comments other wonderful women posted in response.

Here’s why:

1. Hurting your heart to break the glass ceiling is a betrayal of feminism

It does not have to be this way. I don’t think it is either/or. I do think we have choices in how we choose to interpret our deep knowledge that relationships are central to our lives. I don’t ever want to forgo that hugely powerful feminine knowledge that relationships are central to our lives in order to break a glass ceiling – that would be a betrayal of feminism, not a furthering of equality. (Remember equality does not = sameness).


2. Don’t let society convince you that being needed and being loved, respected and valued are the same thing

I have been a CEO and CIO and am the very proud and much loved mother of a much loved 21 year old. We are not valuable to our children because we are needed, we are valuable because they respect and love us. It really helps the ‘broken heart’ thinking/societal programming to not conflate being needed with being loved, valued and respected and being able to love, value and respect our children. The caring we can share with wonderful husbands or caregivers.


3. The world does not need more men. Don’t think you have to become one to break the glass ceiling

Please don’t ever forget what makes you a powerful woman. We need to change the workplace not Lean In and loose the essence of who we are. The world needs that – it does not need women with broken hearts pretending to be men.

I hate to see women ‘Leaning In’ and suffering because of it, particularly young mothers. My personal exploration, research, experience, and study have given me a deep understanding of what it is that women bring to the workplace (and to life). And how very valuable it is and how poor we, as a society, are at naming it, valuing it and leveraging it. I want to help women (and men) see this and own this magnificent essence.

Neither we, nor our daughters should have to forgo who we are, as women, to ‘succeed’. The world does not need more men, and it certainly does not need more women trying to be the same as men – we need more equal (but not the same) women.

Keep listening to your heart and, together, let’s change the business world that causes it to hurt. We are not the only ones it hurts.


Jennifer Kenny is a speaker, writer and organizational transformation consultant. @WMBMagazine contributor, Board Member @GWLN, Fan of @theelders. Passionate Irishwoman, living in The Big Durian. You can find her @jenniferlkenny or She is writing a book about Amplifying Leadership: How understanding differences amplifies capability.