It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change. (full article and ‘changes’ that the author proposes can be read following the link)
The first woman (now, former) director of policy planning at the State Department of the United States, Anne-Marie Slaughter, declares, and explains why, ‘women can’t still have it all’ in a detailed article for the Atlantic magazine, one of the US ‘most venerable magazines’ as last Sunday Times newspaper called it.
Mrs. Slaughter has actually come along with a book under the same title, out of which a manifesto juts out loud and clear.
With which, I kind of, agreed.
The manifesto’s points were the following:
- Having a supportive mate may be a necessary condition, but isn’t sufficient.
- Establish yourself in your career first but still try to have children before you are 35 — or else freeze your eggs, whether you are married or not.
- Make use of technology to be able to work more from home, in the evening after children have been put to bed or when they are off sick, or at weekend.
- Think about the climb to leadership not in terms of a straight upward slope, but as irregular steps, with periodic plateaus (and even dips) when you turn down a promotion or spend a year or two working fewer hours to help your family situation. Count on peaking in your late fifties and early sixties rather than late forties and early fifties. After all, women live longer than me.
- Don’t be shy about talking about your children. This doesn’t mean expecting colleagues to coo over baby pictures, but if you’re late for work because it is your turn to drive the children to school, be honest about it.
- Push to make school timetables match work schedules. The present schoolday is based on a society in which stay-at-home mothers were the norm. Yet the system hasn’t changed
- Stop accepting male behaviour and male choices as the default. Women must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate their choices, too.
While, I believe that the sum of all parts (in time) can build up to ‘having it all’, just not necessarily ‘all’ at the same time – career start \ career peek \ marriage \ motherhood \ career pause \ back on track with career (by the time kids become self-catered, I guess) – I was absolutely shaken by the reality the Princeton professor, Mrs. Slaughter, described in the Atlantic article, for what it is right now for women, and for what frightfully so it will be for our own daughters, if things don’t change.
Her article (now, eager to read her book, too), is a wake-up call, not only for women in my level and situation, but also when it comes to career guiding our own kids, daughters.
Because, the truth is, there are career paths that don’t involve 16-hour-work in the office of a Prime Minister or at the White House, or heading a university, or a corporation (yes, Mrs. Slaughter was taking her view from her own demographic group, but still).
I just want to know what they are.
Given that the woman has at least 1 or 2 post-graduate degrees and possesses some level of expertise within a specialised field.
And, I would be more than willing to participate in, or implement a cross-national survey to see what are the best career choices for those women who want to ‘have it all’ (meaning, for their kids to know their mothers by first name 🙂 ); to know, scientifically, that A) group of professions are for really career-mad women – women who aren’t interested in having a family, ever; and, that B) group is for those who want to be able to take their daughters to ballet class during weekdays, next to an intellectually and monetarily satisfying, with room for growth and development job.
I wonder if Mrs. Slaughter’s book includes such quantitative statistics.
It would be so useful to our daughters, when it comes to the big talk about ‘work-life’.
What are your career suggestions for women who want to have it all?