Reactions: Having it All

By Allison Tilt

First of all, I want to remind you that the Monthly Director’s Note is out and available here.  The Director’s Note is a great way to check in on WIIS happenings each month! Here’s what our Director Jolynn Shoemaker had to say about the blog:

We have decided that this is the right moment to re-launch the WIIS Blog.  As a starting point, we would like to invite WIIS members to post reactions to the Slaughter article (or other related stories and posts in the media).  In addition to your own personal responses, we hope that you will share some ideas of steps that can be taken (by employers, by policymakers, by individual women and men, and by WIIS!) to tackle these ongoing difficulties in career advancement and work-life balance.  We also invite you to share resources and guidance that have been helpful to you along the way.

Now, to get the ball rolling on the discussion I asked three fellow DC interns what their reactions were to “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (and its related stories). Here are a few of their thoughts:

The fact that a very successful woman like Slaughter acknowledges that structural problems still exist in the workplace for women does well to create a dialogue about the issue. I hope that women won’t blame themselves as much for struggling with these problems but will continue to work hard to overcome them. -Neha Srivastava, CSIS Intern

I think something Slaughter did not emphasize enough is what the children or family want and expect of their parents.  The reality is that your children only know, or get used to, the lifestyle they are raised with, and if they are happy with that, even if you think it’s imperfect, you did well enough.  It’s not always about more time, but quality time, together.- Alexa McCue, Council of Women World Leaders Intern

“This is an issue that I hadn’t really thought about previously.  In high-school and college, women were always equally talented, motivated, and successful, and so I believed that the problems of past generations were solved.  Yet, it is true that while women are, and have been, just as educated as men, they steadily drop out of visibility as you go up the leadership pyramid. I was raised in a family where both my parents had successful careers, and it never seemed like my mother’s gender ever held her back.  I am now realizing that my mom worked in a supportive office, and that when the office stopped being supportive—due to a change in leadership—she DID opt for early retirement, right when we were the same age as Ann-Marie Slaughter’s son.  I never appreciated the difficult decisions my mother faced, because it all seemed so easy to her, but looking back, I think she hid her struggles well.  I think that the article is enlightening and honest about problems women face, and I am glad that is has created such a stir.” – Grace Kenneally, WIIS Intern

There are so many potential ways to view the work/life balance dilemma, as well as myriad of recommendations. This isn’t a new problem by any means, as Ms. Slaughter and others have mentioned. Yet as we’ve seen from articles and op-eds streaming from various news sources, the problem is far from fixed in the eyes of many working mothers (and fathers!).

Now that the dialogue has started, hopefully the United States workforce will move towards remedying the situation so future generations are no longer pressed between family or career.

Readers: What is your reaction to the the original article, any of its successors, or the issue as a whole? We want to know what you think! Write a comment below