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50As women reach the half-century mark, they frequently are eager to ramp up their careers. Their last child may be off to college and for once they can rise, shower and make just one breakfast … theirs. If they pack a lunch, it’s for them to take to the office so they can control their calories and know what’s really in their food. And they can stay late at the office because no one is waiting in the driveway wanting to know, “What’s for dinner, mom?”

Women often have intermittent careers earlier on, riding the Mommy track for a year or two here and there or waiting to go back to work until the last child is in school full time. Men (except for those who take paternity leave or are a stay-at-home dad) have been working for about 30 years by the time they reach the 50 mark. They may be eyeing retirement … at least a little.

Women are now ready to put in extra time in the office, go for the promotions and work harder to reach the executive level.

Ah, here’s where there can be a rub.

Women who were once on the Mommy Track may still be perceived to be there long after they have returned to work full time. Perception can be a hard thing to shake. In fact, they may have to consider changing jobs to shake it entirely … which also means they have to start over accumulating benefits and building their internal network.

Women also have to overcome the perception aspect in another way. Men mature as they reach 50. Women’s wrinkles receive more attention. I like to call them “wisdom lines,” and give women credit for the knowledge and experience they have gained. Women need to keep their look current else some may think their skills are also out-of-date. An image advisor, wardrobe coach and an astute hairdresser can help a lot.

Another obstacle women may face as they seek to rise is an ole girl network. They simply are not as prevalent as the ole boy networks. Having more than 90 percent of corporations run by men means that men just naturally have access to more powerful people who are more like them.

Women who are eager to learn how to overcome some of these very real challenges can find answers at the Chicago’s area first Boomer business women’s conference, “Maximize Your Career – Business Tools for Women over 50” Aug. 28 at DePaul University/Naperville Campus. Produced by Duoforce Enterprises, Inc., it is a day-long event jam-packed with great speakers and the opportunity to network with like-minded women to bolster that ole girl network. Exhibitors will share information for Boomer business women.

Cost is $116/person or $98/person when three people register together. Details are at www.bizwomenover50conference.com or you can contact Duoforce President Lillian Bjorseth at lillianspeaks@duoforce.com or 630-983-5308.

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