The Honeyed Choice


Glimpses into the life of a working woman:

Scene one: Sitting up late into the night (morning actually) making a project report for a client, one of many such nights in the last 9 months. The project isn’t going as well as I originally thought it would; Feeling dejected, tired and wondering if it’s all worth it.

Enter Husband with Honeyed Choice: “Why don’t you slow down a bit? You don’t really have to work this hard. Take a break, enjoy yourself and relax.”

Scene Two: Catching a flight to New York for a client meeting; have to get back and then off to Hong Kong for a leadership conference. Running a cold.

Call from mother with Honeyed Choice: “Why do you have to work like this? Your husband is earning so much, isn’t he?”

Scene Three: Applying for the role of Sales head in my organization. Requires a lot of field work, working with dealers.

A well meaning senior colleague suggests the Honeyed Choice: “Why don’t you take a less heavy role? Something where you don’t have to deal with the harsher aspects of sales? And spend more time with family.”

Well intentioned advice in all the three instances, but the message that comes to me consistently (for many women, all through life’s turning points) is “You always have the choice to drop out of your career” or “Your career is not important”

This Honeyed Choice is always at the back of my mind; beckoning me alluringly into slow pedaling on my career; making me look at my career very short term; and taking non-career enhancing decisions.

When I was talking about this over a cup of tea, I remember a woman friend telling me “You know Kalpana, I am very clear that I don’t want concern that belittles or dilutes my aspirations; I want concern that supports & encourages me!”

“I ask for support whenever I make tough choices, and encouragement, when someone asks me to ‘take it easy.’ And when I am concerned for my niece, daughter or female report I say, “You are doing a great job! I am so proud of you… keep going! Take that tough role, and take care of your health too!”

Yeah. Tough Choices. Not Honeyed Choices. I like that!

“We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.”  – Sheryl Sandberg


Kalpana Tatavarti is Founder of Parity Consulting & Training pvt ltd, a boutique firm focused on accelerating women leadership.

Read more of her articles at


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