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Why Women Can’t Have It All According To Anne-Marie Slaughter

22 Jun

Generation Y women have grown up hearing that we can have it all if we really want it. We can have the high-powered career, the money, the man, and the children without having to sacrifice one for the other. But is this really true?

In a controversial op-ed in the Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter penned an article entitled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. The article recounts Slaughter’s experiences in Washington working a high-powered government job and her struggles to be the mother and professional that she wanted to be.

In the article Slaughter states “In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be—at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office—at least not for very long.”

Of course Slaughter’s situation is not every woman’s situation. Not every woman dreams of working 80+ hours a week in Washington, or anywhere for that matter, and being away from their family for weeks at a time. Not every woman believes that having a high-powered career is just as important as her family.

While I do think that Slaughter’s points are interesting and well thought out, I do think that her concerns about women not being able to have it all do not apply to everyone. Take Lindsey Cross who wrote an article entitled Dear Anne-Marie Slaughter, I Have It All. In her article Cross is upset by Slaughter’s statement that women can’t have it all because she says that she has the job she wants – being a freelance writer and getting paid for it – and also gets to spend time with her family and daughter. Cross writes, “I guess the reason that this debate makes me frustrated is because it lets an admittedly small number of women speak for all of us. I’m sorry that Anne-Marie Slaughter had a hard time prioritizing what she wanted with the needs of her family. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have it all. She doesn’t get to decide that for me.”

The work-life balance debate is one that is always swirling around the internet discussing how a woman who is a mother, wife, and employee can have it all. What I think it all comes down to is a choice. Just like men, women have to decide what is important to them. Sure, some men are able to work longer hours because they know that their wife will take care of everything at the house, but he is able to do so because that wife made a choice. There are plenty of men out there who have also made the choice to allow their wife to work the longer hours – Slaughter’s husband did it for her. When you have a family the decision of who is going to focus more on work and who is going to take care of the daily tasks around the house is a family decision and one in which the woman has a voice in. If a woman wants a high-powered career that will take her away from her children and daily life then she has to decide whether this career is the best thing for her family.

In essence, I think a woman that wants it all – great carrer, happy marriage, fulfilling relationships with their children – needs to speak up in their marriage and tell their husband how they feel and what they want. If a woman doesn’t speak up how can the husband know that she wants a different job?

What do you think? Do you think Slaughter’s or Cross is right? Do you find it hard to find a balance in your career and home life?