Having it all? Women struggling with work-life balance are fortunate
Having it all – excelling in a meaningful career while having plenty of time for family – is a struggle for educated, privileged women, and the focus of a recent article in The Atlantic. But maybe the challenge of 'having it all' should be placed on society, not individual women.
Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in the July/August issue of The Atlantic, entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” has become the most popular piece the magazine has ever published.Skip to next paragraph
is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..
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And no wonder.
Slaughter, a Princeton professor, former dean of the school’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, former director of policy planning for the US State Department, (and many other things, all of which is part of the point of her article), has tapped into one of life’s most controversial and tormenting questions for young women of The Atlantic’s reading demographic.
How the heck do you “have it all?”
Or, how do you “balance” a fully satisfying work life, with professional advancement and workplace accolades, with an equally full family life, with time for children and spouse and maybe even sometimes yourself?
The answer, Slaughter suggests, is, well, you can’t. At least not with the way the US workplace is structured.
And not only that, she says, but the idea that anyone possibly can have “it all” has been harmful for a generation of younger women who are increasingly seeing through the myth of feminist completion and have decided to give up either on families or on the high powered professional careers that they might otherwise enjoy.
I read Slaughter’s article with interest.
I am her target audience: relatively privileged, Ivy League educated, 30-something, trying regularly to figure out how to make “it all” work. I skate between diapers and deadlines; I regularly feel guilty either about not writing enough or not putting my baby to bed, despite the cries of “mama” coming from her room. I worry about taking time after dinner to work rather than spending those precious toddler-free moments with my husband, who has a heavy work-family load of his own.
You might say, actually, that I have no real problems.
And to that I would agree.