I just finished reading the long essay that is roiling the feminist waters and demanding changes to the culture of the workplace: Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Why Women Still Can’t Have It All in The Atlantic.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, Ms. Slaughter left a high-profile job in Hillary Clinton’s state department because it was taking too much time away from her son. The departure was even more significant because the State Department is known as a family friendly workplace, at least in the context of Washington, D.C., power depots.
The problem, Ms. Slaughter argues, is that our culture so devalues parenting and personal time that what passes for family-friendly isn’t family-friendly at all. We’ve made that case ourselves and that’s one of the reasons we opted for the crazy freelance life, which is high-stress in its own way but at least offers the chance for more of those random moments of closeness with our families.
Ms. Slaughter’s piece is short on specifics, as these think-y pieces often are. One good suggestion: make school hours match workplace hours. What a concept. And men and women would both benefit if the expectation of 24/7 were ramped back down to 9-to-5.
My two cents, for what it’s worth, is that one of the problems women face in the corporate world is that we don’t set boundaries ourselves. I have seen it often the case that at the end of the day, it’s the women carrying home the bulging briefcases, and going online after dinner. Women often raise their hands to do the real work involved in executing a strategy in the workplace, while men claim the credit for coming up with the plan.
Women have helped create the idea of the tireless, always-on workforce. If women more consistently set boundaries, perhaps corporate America would be forced to adopt policies that returned some sanity to the workplace.
Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating “you can have it all” is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.
Family comes first”—any family—and found that my employees were both productive and intensely loyal.
If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal.
The discipline, organization, and sheer endurance it takes to succeed at top levels with young children at home is easily comparable to running 20 to 40 miles a week.
maternal imperative felt so deeply that the “choice” is reflexive.
make school schedules match work schedules