The July issue of “The Atlantic” has reignited the debate about if women can have it all and the AJC’s Helena Oliviero has waded into the discussion.
“…“Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, recently reignited the debate about juggling work and family life. Slaughter stepped down from her job as director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department. She left partly because she needed to return to her job at Princeton University once her two-year public service leave was over. But she also left because she missed her spouse and two teenage sons, and they needed her.”
“The magazine article went viral; it reportedly had nearly a million views online within a week. Responses ran the gamut: Some welcomed a conversation about more flexibility in the workplace, some saw the piece as whiny and still others lambasted her for equating feminist success with “having it all.”
So can women really have it all?
“A rude epiphany hit me soon after I got there. When people asked why I had left government, I explained that I’d come home not only because of Princeton’s rules (after two years of leave, you lose your tenure), but also because of my desire to be with my family and my conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible. I have not exactly left the ranks of full-time career women: I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book. But I routinely got reactions from other women my age or older that ranged from disappointed (“It’s such a pity that you had to leave Washington”) to condescending (“I wouldn’t generalize from your experience. I’venever had to compromise, and my kids turned out great”).”
To this particular remark of “I’ve never had to compromise,” I would say BS!
I am always observing how mothers handle their career and family and the compromise is they either have someone handling their home duties (IE their husband, nanny, relative) or they are prioritizing and the compromise is they’re house is a mess or they never cook and that’s OK!
I don’t think the promise of feminism was that women would never have to compromise. I think the promise was that we would have a choice to do what we wanted to do and would have options to balance it.
The AJC’s Olivera found experts saying similar things – life is easier if working mothers realize they will have to make comprises.
“Employed women who expected that work/life balance was going to be hard are probably more likely to accept that they can’t do it all,” said Katrina Leupp, a University of Washington sociology Ph.D. student who also teaches at the university.”
“Leupp, who is analyzing survey responses from 1,600 women — first interviewed in their late 20s and then again as 40-year-old mothers — said women who expect some challenges are more likely to be comfortable making sacrifices, such as cutting back on work hours and getting husbands to help more. Those expecting to be “super mom” are more likely to face depression, she said.”
“Despite the sharp growth of dual-career households and a more egalitarian division of family labor over the past several decades, women typically still take on most of the child care responsibilities. (And fathers typically do more paid hours on the job).”
“But mothers are more likely to feel guilty when work spills into home life. A 2011 study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found women, particularly those with young children, were far more likely than working fathers to be distressed by a BlackBerry buzzing during nonworking hours at home.”
To the last point, I think husbands are definitely more willing to help around the house but I’m not sure women are willing to release on some of their “motherly” duties. I’m not sure if mothers are unwilling to let husband take on more (they don’t trust them) or if they are just physically wired that way.
So what do you think:
Can women “have it all?”
Is compromise necessary?
Does the younger generation (20s and 30s) have a better understanding of that than older generations?