cheese.jpgYou’ve heard of the sandwich generation — women caring for parents and children at the same time.

Well, I don’t think that term does this growing phenomenon justice. I’ve decided that women end up being more like Philly cheesesteaks. They end up oozing out of every end with responsibilities that are as thick as Velvetta, and when they think they’re done with the hot pepper job of raising their kids and simultaneously building their careers, they get piled on by a bunch of fried up onions, aka, their aging parents. (No disrespect to aging parents. We love you all.)

hart.jpgI got this idea when I heard last week that the president of Temple University in Philadelphia was resigning. Why is she leaving? Because she’s part of the Philly Cheesesteak Generation.

This from the Philadelphia Tribune last week:

Ann Weaver Hart, Temple’s president since 2006 and its first woman president, plans to leave June 30. She said she needs to be closer to her family in Utah to care for her mother, whose health has been rapidly deteriorating since last fall.

“While one can never predict how health issues will develop, she will need increasing support and assistance,” Hart wrote in an email to university staff. “She lives in Salt Lake City, and I cannot provide her with consistent support from Philadelphia. The time I spent with her this past summer made this reality very vivid.”

I understand her decision, but it does make me sad. Hart grew her career while raising four daughters.

This from her Temple bio:

Ann Weaver Hart previously served as president of the University of New Hampshire and provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California. Her prior appointments include professor of educational leadership, dean of the Graduate School and special assistant to the president at the University of Utah.

She received B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Utah. Her research interests include leadership succession and development, work redesign and organizational behavior in educational organizations, and academic freedom. She has published more than 85 articles and book chapters, and five books and edited volumes.

Here’s a case of a woman who thought she shattered the glass ceiling and was in the clear. Many female executives I’ve interviewed over the years, including those who had no children, told me they were hit with a rude awakening when they realized suddenly they had to try and balance work and family in their 50s because a parent needed their help.

Alas, it’s usually the daughters that have to step up to the plate and care for them; and Corporate America seems as hard on these women as they are on working mothers. One executive who worked for a major Wall Street firm told me her boss was calling her when she took time off to be at her mother’s bedside in the hospital.

We don’t know how many women are part of the sandwich generation today because the Department of Labor stopped tracking the trend in 2003. But here’s the latest info the agency had:

I don’t think the work world is prepared for the Philly Cheesesteak Generation. They’re not even ready for working men and women who also want to be involved moms and dads.

It’s unclear what Hart will do in the future, after caring for her mother, but for now family responsibilities will sideline this incredible female leader. I wonder if she’ll miss the cheesesteaks.

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