Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter had something to get off her chest. After sacrificing her home life to serve as top aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the State Department, her teenage sons struggled in her absence. So she decided to step down to focus on her family.
In the aftermath of her exit, she started to question if women could "have it all." Could they be equally successful in their non-family career and motherhood? After years of watching women fight their way to the top, only to step down when pressures became too great at home, Slaughter came to the conclusion that the answer to her question was a resounding "No." Yet, it was the reaction from those around her that pushed her to write the article Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. Slaughter said,
The first set of reactions, with the underlying assumption that my choice was somehow sad or unfortunate, was irksome enough. But it was the second set of reactions—those implying that my parenting and/or my commitment to my profession were somehow substandard—that triggered a blind fury. Suddenly, finally, the penny dropped.
Last week the Atlantic Magazine published her her si-page manifesto, in which Slaughter tackled everything from the double standard that men rarely feel pulled from their career to be with their family to changes that need to happen in the workplace before there can be equality for women.
I still strongly believe that women can “have it all” (and that men can, too). I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a number of uncomfortable facts that need to be widely acknowledged—and quickly changed.
She suggests that employees with families need more opportunities to work at home and that matching work schedules to school schedules would be a step in the right direction. She explores the need for career breaks, a call for men to stand behind our choices to help push our society to value putting family ahead of work.
When I first read the title of Slaughter's story, I must admit that my feminist alarms went off and I wanted to disagree with the notion that women couldn't have it all. Yet, as I read page after page of her diatribe, my head spun with each example she gave, and by the end I was convinced that our society has a lot of growing to do before women can feel equally successful at work and at home.
I suppose that it all hinges on what "having it all" means to you. I am blessed to be a Stay-at-Home mom who gladly gave up a career to raise my children. Yet, I have total respect for moms in the work force and believe that they deserve equal chances at success as do men in their field. For me, as I spend my days raising my children, I feel content that I have all I need right here with me.
Are you a working mom, or did you put your career on hold to raise children? Do you feel like being a mother has held you back in your career? Do you believe that women can "have it all?" Please leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments.