Tin Can Robot

Having It All

In The Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter writes a wonderfully thoughtful essay on the feminist credo of “having it all”. Her conclusion is that it’s currently not possible:

I ended up speaking to a group of about 40 men and women in their mid-20s. What poured out of me was a set of very frank reflections on how unexpectedly hard it was to do the kind of job I wanted to do as a high government official and be the kind of parent I wanted to be, at a demanding time for my children (even though my husband, an academic, was willing to take on the lion’s share of parenting for the two years I was in Washington). I concluded by saying that my time in office had convinced me that further government service would be very unlikely while my sons were still at home. The audience was rapt, and asked many thoughtful questions. One of the first was from a young woman who began by thanking me for “not giving just one more fatuous ‘You can have it all’ talk.” Just about all of the women in that room planned to combine careers and family in some way. But almost all assumed and accepted that they would have to make compromises that the men in their lives were far less likely to have to make.

The timing of this is interesting; if women first fully entered the workforce in the 1950s and 60s then the daughters of those women would be the ones who are currently in their 40s or 50s and would normally be on the list of candidate for high-level and Cxx level positions. The question is if the next generation of women coming up would be asked to face the same choices that their mothers had to make or do we as a society embrace family values and needs as being equal to the needs of work.