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I’ve been in software development for 17 years. And for 7 of those years, I’ve been a mother. Finding my place in a predominantly male field while balancing the demands of parenthood has not been easy. But I love the work I do, and I’ve learned along the way that a little perseverance goes far.

Getting started in software

At the beginning of my career, I was quiet, shy and hesitant to voice my own opinions. In comparison, the guys I worked with always seemed so naturally confident. They had opinions about everything we worked on. I was impressed. At some point, I realized that as a woman I had my own point of view, one that was unique and worth sharing. So I persisted on.

Speaking up

I began to think to myself: “What the heck — I’m a woman. I have opinions. I have buying power. Why don’t I speak up more about what I think women are looking for?” This actually could be really important to my company, I believed. After all, they want to sell products to both women and men in business.

Speaking up became even more critical when I started working on remote access tools that would let people work from anywhere at any time they needed. People were reclaiming their commuting time instead of sitting in traffic for hours a day. Women were working from home a couple days a week to be closer to their children. And everyone wanted products that were easy to use. As someone who wasn’t the most technical, I was always the first to say, “That’s not simple enough. I don’t get it — let’s make it easier.” It turned out that this feedback was something people were really looking for.

Adding motherhood to the mix

When I was pregnant with my first child in 2007, I honestly believed I would have my baby, quit my job and stay home as full-time mom — whatever that meant. I just thought that’s what you do. Luckily for me, I had good female role models in my family. Both my mom and mother-in-law knowingly said, “You should keep working. You’d miss it.” And as it turned out, we needed the benefits my company offered. Thankfully, I worked at a place that offered flexible schedules to valued employees.

So I proposed returning to work with a 30-hour work week, half at home and half in the office. At the time, it wasn’t a typical thing to grant, but I got the opportunity based on my past track record of results. I worked that same 30-hour schedule until my daughter turned 3 1/2. Work was ramping up and new products were being conceived of, so I was asked to come back to a full-time, 40-hour schedule.

Maintaining a constant balancing act

It felt good to be needed by my workplace. However, I seriously did not know how I was going to fulfill the demands of a full-time, fast-paced job as a parent. When I asked a friend who was working 40 hours how she handled it, she told me bluntly, “You just do it and you don’t think about it.” Pretty cut and dry.

I know plenty of women do this every day all over the country. So I figured out new ways to not only work but thrive in such a world. And the timing couldn’t have been better. The rise of telecommuting, mobile devices and cloud storage made juggling the two roles doable.

Nowadays, it’s quite common for me to join conference calls on my iPhone while sitting in the school parking lot. I’ve responded to urgent emails while helping with homework. I’ve left work early to attend ballet recitals only to jump back online after my daughter is in bed. I’ve done online meetings late at night with a development team in India. And I’ve woken up early at 5 a.m. to strategize on a video conference with colleagues in Europe.

As it’s turned out, moving my schedule around to fit the needs of my personal life and work life has worked well for all and I’m always available to my team with group text messaging in Convoi. Not being rigid about exactly where I physically need to be for 8 hours has been a great shift for me. My job continues to be about results. And I know even more what it’s like for other working women trying to juggle it all. I’ve got a better sense for the types of products that they’re looking for.

Looking back

Recently, somebody asked what inspires me and the work I do. I responded that I love being on a team creating new options for working parents, solutions that might not have existed before. I appreciate the ability to create a life they love, where they can rise to the exciting challenges of work and yet still be there for their children.

Photo Credit: westpark via Compfight cc

Carey Caulfield
Carey Caulfield has worked for Citrix for 12 years, where she was part of the original launch teams for GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and GoToTraining. She is currently the Senior Product Manager for the new mobile app Citrix Convoi. Featured as a best new app by Apple, Convoi is all about free team chat and instant conference calling. Follow Carey @careycaulfield
  • sara

    Such a fabulous article Carey! Congrats on asking what you need and making it happen… You rock!

  • http://www.YourWebinarGuru.com YourWebinarGuru

    One of my goals when leaving Los Angeles so many years ago was to slow down and get more balance instead of spending most of my life in traffic. I guess I lucked out in more ways than one when I ended up working for Citrix and really making use of their products. Now that I own an online business, Citrix products continue to make all the difference in being mobile, balanced and happy! I love that you really understand how so many of us need to work.

  • Summergirl215

    Great article Carey! I love that our products make the work-life balance for parents easier!

  • workingmombaof2

    Great article that I relate to on many levels. Thanks for sharing.

  • denise

    Thanks for sharing Carey…and for the honesty! Being a girl in tech I completely related to that initial intimidation factor. This is truly inspirational in demonstrating how as women we can have balance in our career + family!

  • Kristin

    Love this article. Having had the pleasure of your daughter in my classes I know you are not just making it work but making it work for you!

  • http://virtualjunction.com/ Lori Dearman

    I love hearing stories from the trenches and more examples of how technology can enable us to reach that elusive work/life balance. I can relate to your experience 100%!
    Some of the moms in my social circle ask me if I feel like a slave to all of that technology. In fact, I feel quit the opposite. I love that I can slip in and out of work mode as needed. I could not survive with out the GoTo product suite, and I can’t wait to really dig into Convoi as well. So thrilled that you are inspired to keep building products to help us all live richer lives. You go girl!

  • Kyara Lomer-Camarena

    LOVE THIS! Right there with ya. My mother told me, too, to keep working. That underlying notion of staying home is “what you do,” like you say, is definitely worth challenging.

  • Wendy in SB

    Great advice from your mother! Thanks for sharing your story of career and family work life balance. And now a blogger.

  • Lindsay Lefler

    Great article about the work/life balance and how with the right tools you can be both a present parent and employee. Many employers can learn from your experience about how it doesn’t all “stop” when you become a mom, but rather how your experiences and dedication will enhance your work performance. Great article.

  • Geordie_esme

    Excellent perspective. Too often we see out roles as women limited to what we can provide for our family. What about the perspective provided by women in a diverse workplace? What can we contribute to science, engineering, transportation services, management, and industrial design from our unique perspective? What a better world we would have if voices from all different genders, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds were heard on a regular basis.

  • Nicole Forbyn Hawthorne

    Great post. I too struggled finding my place and voice in the male dominated tech industry (especially in the beginning of my career). I am entirely optimistic about the future of workplace equality. When men and women work together to combine their unique perspectives, strengths and talents they create a whole that is truly greater then the sum of parts.

  • Daalia Reynolds

    This is such a terrific article; you have articulated so well the challenges we face as ambitious, career-minded, family-minded, working parents! It’s so helpful to know others are out there on the same journey, and people like Carey creating awesome products like Convoi that help make it all easier to juggle!

  • Karen Kawaguchi

    This is a wonderful post, Carey, and you are being a great example for Kelly. In addition to successfully managing your role as a working parent you neglected to mention your achievements in also balancing life as a wife, friend, family member, runner, crafter, and more. You’re awesome!

  • hennie

    Nice post, Carey! Thanks.

  • Swati

    Really Good one

  • robinson53467

    This is great achievement for us that there are more women are coming in the technology job and they like to work with different software. I hope it will be so more well for our science education.