Anne-Marie Slaughter made headlines with her recent Atlantic article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” which argues that mothers truly cannot have positions of power in their professional lives and still maintain a work-life balance that makes them happy.
We connected with Slaughter to talk about work-family balance and the responses she received about the article. Watch:
Related: The ‘Career Woman’ Myth
“While some men have said they too can’t have it all, women still bear the burden of not being able to fully balance a career and work life,” said Slaughter, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and former Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State. She continued: “Men are still more able to have the career they want and have a family because there are still more women behind them taking care of those kids.”
Slaughter’s article sparked great debate among working men and women who feel they each have a difficult time adhering to the obligations of a family and career. It also sparked debate among women – those with and without children. The article went viral with over 1 million hits in just one week.
The common scenario Slaughter describes is one in which more women step back from pursuing the career they want to take care of their family, often feeling as though they have failed professionally. “We have to recognize there are particular demands for working mothers and we need to change society,” she said.
What do we need to do to create a better working and family life for people?
- Change the way you behave. Be honest about the trade-offs you’re making. That will change the culture and people will understand how many women and men are in this situation.
- Ask for what you need. “The most important thing for all people juggling work and family is to say ‘I need a day working from home,’ ‘I need more flexibility in the afternoon,’ or ‘I need to be able to come in late two mornings a week,'” Slaughter said.
These are the things working men and women can do to change their situations, but the government can help. Slaughter points to the Pentagon as an example of what the government should do on a greater scale; one out of every 10 days is a personal day for employees.
“We can ask for what we need,” Slaughter explained, “then there are things the government can do and there are things society can do to value these kinds of choices.”
- Take our poll below and let us know what changes you think would most help women – and families – when it comes to balancing work and home…
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