IE Focus | By Celia de Anca, Director Centre of Global Diversity Management at IE
The midlife crisis affects both men and women, but while men tend to seek an emotional answer, women often need a more rational approach. It would be to business corporations’ advantage to provide women with just that.According to Jewish mysticism, a man can only start his learning of the cabbala after his 40th birthday, when life starts to fall apart and needs to be rebuilt, not so much from the outside, but rather from within, from a connection with his true nature. In our more prosaic civilisation, we speak of the midlife crisis, which, as Tony Judt pointed out not long ago, is that crucial moment when many men either get a new wife or buy a motorbike.
A woman could not study the cabbala so there was apparently no reason for speaking about when her life starts to fall apart in mystic terms, and women have not traditionally changed their husband for one who was 20 years younger when reaching the age of 40. Her crisis, at least in our society, used to be the empty nest syndrome, which left a woman waiting to refill it with grandchildren.
Our society has changed, even if the midlife crisis is still with us. A woman no longer cries when her chicks fly the nest. Indeed, many of them are happy to see them go and become hungry for a professional career with some kind of meaning. A male friend once told me that after 20 years in the same profession, the time had come to change his life. At the same time, his wife, after 5 years at home looking after the children, had reached a point where she really needed to go back to work. Hence pure logic led them to change their roles, whereby he stayed at home for a few years enjoying his time with his children, who were still small, while she went back to work to enjoy the pleasures (yes, there are some) of a full professional life.