Forbes 50 over 50

Forbes, in conjunction with the Know Your Value Initiative, have recently published the third annual Forbes 50 Over 50, which celebrates women over 50 who are founding brands used by millions, breaking world records and forging technological breakthroughs.  Their aim with this annual publication is to highlight how women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond are doing their most innovative and impactful work. 

What is striking is that nearly half of the 200 women in this year’s collection have either founded or own their business, which demonstrates women’s success coming from breaking the old rule of running businesses and succeeding in ways that work uniquely for them. 

You can read the full feature and explore the 50 over 50 via the link below.  There are some interesting quotes around why pursuing your career goals at a later stage in life is better. 

Sixty-three-year-old astronaut Peggy Whitson made history this spring when she became the first woman to command a private mission to the International Space Station.  She says:

“I was a much better astronaut, getting in later and having more life experience,”

Her first space flight didn’t happen until she was 42, and two decades later, she’s drawing on that experience to help the space infrastructure company Axiom build the galaxy’s first commercial space station.

Catherine Coleman Flowers, 64 years old author and founder of her own business works with leaders across party lines and between the public and private spheres. She says that being over 50 is the key to many of these conversations:

“I’ve learned how to get along with people. You have to meet people where they are. I’ve learned that with age because when I was younger, I didn’t have the patience to sit around long enough.”

Mel Robbins—the 54-year-old podcaster and best-selling author—candidly put it:

 “You are wise. You have experience…You know your worth and you speak your mind. And you are just getting started. I f***ing love being in my 50s.”

Here’s the link to the Forbes article and details of all 50 wonderful women breaking new ground.

Is now the time to think differently?

Reading the Forbes 50 over 50 feature led me to think about the best time in life for women to pursue their career and I’d like to put forward a controversial point of view and get some feedback and alternative views. 

Giles and I have had many conversations with women of all ages since embarking on our Wonder Women stories and interviews.  We have learnt (unsurprisingly) that whilst women in their 20s are happy to work the hours and make the sacrifices to climb the corporate ladder, it becomes much more difficult in their 30s when they start to consider how they can balance career and family (if they want to have a family).  That’s when the challenges start and when so much talent drops out of the workplace.  Arguably, more flexible and hybrid working makes it easier for both women and men, but it’s still a complicated juggling act.

My question to everyone is – should we be thinking differently? 

We all know that physiologically the best time for women is to have children is in their 20s and 30s, but this clashes with current expectations and aspirations of career building.  This may be controversial, but shouldn’t we be thinking about encouraging women (or men) to take a career break to be full-time parents in their 30s?  Then make it easy for them to re-enter into the workplace?   Instead of pursuing a career in their 20s and 30s, wouldn’t it be better to leave it until their 40s, 50s, 60s? 

Unfortunately for many, financial implications would make this difficult to achieve.  But the current system is not working for many and we need businesses (brave HR Directors) and government to be more innovative in how they could enable this.  I haven’t got the answer, but I’d like to throw the challenge out there.   

There’s a big concern globally around falling birth rates and the impact this will have on the economies, but women will just laugh at government encouragements to have more babies without significant changes to the ways in which we are expected to work. 

All views welcome! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.