There are very few instances when the new issue of magazines I subscribe to prompt me to upon taking it out of my mailbox, immediately read the cover article beginning to end without interruption. The cover story on The Atlantic’s July issue was one of the rare instances when I was curious, anxious and petrified all at the same moment, enough so that I promptly sat down in my yard to read what Anne-Marie Slaughter had to say in her article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”.
I have been told by well-meaning friends that you can have it all, just not all at once, and while this is empowering advice, Slaughter promptly dismisses it, I believe correctly so, because it fails to address the larger issue – why is it not possible for us to have it all – period? In other words, with more women in the workforce and being educated and talented enough more than ever before, why haven’t the systems changed to allow these well-deserving women the opportunity to keep their hard-fought jobs, as well as raise their children?
While initially the title may seem to lead you to believe that women are doomed in this pursuit, it is in fact, a call to all women and men to look at our work systems and adjust them so that all workers are able to do their jobs to the best of their ability and be the quality parents each child so desperately needs.
Within the article, Sheryl Sandberg’s (Facebook COO) TED speech is alluded to where she urges women to “not leave before you leave”. In other words, so many women assume that they must step back from performing wholeheartedly at work because they know or want to begin a family, but why should they have to do this? Again, women are doing themselves a disservice by accepting the status-quo of the traditional work day.
Already, Slaughter’s article that was just posted last week has received 800,000 views, Sandberg’s eighteen minute speech has been viewed by nearly 1.5 million people. This is an issue that clearly has the interest of the populous. Instead of giving women who choose their children and step back from work a hard time, or visa versa, nag women who don’t have children because they love their careers, let’s all support each other and work together to create an environment where women can have it all. There is great power in numbers if only we work to support rather than belittle each other for very tough decisions.
I strongly recommend carving thirty minutes out of your day to read the article and eighteen minutes out of your computer time one evening to listen to Sheryl’s speech. I would love to hear your thoughts upon absorbing each of their words.