What if you got a call one day and were told you'd have to move with your children to another
country? That's what happened to Dave Darrow this year when his wife, globetrotting businesswoman
and mother of two Gigi Wang, said she got an offer too good to pass up.
For Dave, a computer programmer, and Gigi, the chance to move from Pleasanton,
California to Singapore, though a big change, may actually bring their nuclear family
one step closer to 'normal.' It will mean Gigi can spend more time at home with her
family instead of out of the country an average of 12 days a month.
Despite operating in an era of interconnectivity where it is possible to communicate on the
other side of the world at the click of a button, Gigi and her partner, Kim Emerson, are used
to trans-pacific flights. Their business - training Asian firms in e-commerce, web design and
marketing strategies - requires a personal touch and frequent 20-hour commutes to Hong Kong,
Singapore and other countries.
Gigi and Kim's several trips abroad a month may be extreme, but they are among the increasing
ranks of international business travelers. In the last ten years, the number of US business travelers
going overseas has increased by more than 50 percent to reach over 8.4 million in 1999.
Where Gigi stands out has been as a frequent flyer mom, a group traditionally much smaller
than frequent flyer dads. According to one study by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization promoting
women in business, the number of women with children that travel on overseas business trips
regularly is 25 percent lower than the number of family men.
Whether international jet setting is part of the juggling act or not, balancing the demands of
family and work are a challenge to nearly 16 million families in the US, in which both parents
work. For Gigi and Dave, the rigors of being a modern day, double-income family are multiplied
by chronic jetlag, keeping track of flight schedules, and a constant cycle of packing and unpacking.
Relief to this grueling regime may come by bringing Mohammed to the mountain - or,
in this case the family to Asia. The all-expense-paid move will be more than a career
opportunity, Gigi hopes. She says living abroad can be an enriching experience for a family.
For Dave, however, the main selling point is the chance to be spend more time with his wife.