WOMEN
09/25/2012 10:39 am ET

Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect

Over the past 30 years–first at Harvard Business School, where I was on the faculty for nearly two decades, and now, at Barnard College, where I serve as president–I have watched thousands of bright and talented young women start to plot the course of their lives. I have watched my friends’ and colleagues’ lives evolve in complicated and unpredictable ways.

And I have juggled like mad, with three wonderful kids, a husband I adore, and jobs that leave me perched perpetually on the edge of insanity. Like most working mothers, I have snuck out of meetings to attend piano recitals and missed track meets when a deadline was looming. I have sprinted through airports in the futile hope of catching an earlier flight home and tried to comfort a sobbing child when, inevitably, the plane was late. I delivered my first lecture in a suit that reeked of infant throw-up from earlier that morning and crashed the minivan into a tree as I raced to retrieve the correct ballet costume.

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