It’s been six months since The Atlantic published Anne-Marie Slaughter’s thought-provoking article, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. When I read it last summer, I was in the midst of planning my new blog about the intersection of leadership and parenting. At the time, I thought (and hoped) I would be able to build an audience for the blog. Once I read Dr. Slaughter’s article, I felt inspired, if not compelled, to start writing it; the blog became something I had to do. Let me explain…
Dr. Slaughter’s overall message is that we need better choices if we want to see working mothers make it to the tops of their careers. While these choices include things like part-time roles, flexible schedules, and school hours that better match work hours, we also need to make it more acceptable for working parents to acknowledge that their kids’ needs often come before the demands of work.
As a dean at Princeton University, Dr. Slaughter wanted to help change the environment to be more family friendly; she did this by deliberately talking about her children and her desire to lead a balanced life. She would end meetings at 6pm, announcing that she had to go home for dinner. She would tell people where she was going when she had a conflict such as a parent-teacher conference. She refused to make excuses for putting her family’s needs first.
As I read her article, I wondered if I could help, in a small way, by encouraging working parents to share stories about how their parenting experience makes them better leaders, and vice versa. To have it be acceptable to talk about strategies for delegation, communication, inspiring a vision, and other leadership qualities through the lens of parenting. To be able to reinforce the managerial style of the office by talking about how effective the same approach is at home. To make it okay to blend our personal and professional lives.
Because of Dr. Slaughter’s article, I knew I had to start my blog. But, my blog alone isn’t enough. What are your ideas for addressing Dr. Slaughter’s article? I’d like to hear from you.
© 2013 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.
2 thoughts on “But I want to have it all!”
And that slimmer of minorities, the working dad. One approach might be in career time-slices: a time to be passionately work-obsessed late into every night, a time to work 8A-5P and pick up the kids on time…
Thanks for mentioning this point, Rich. Anne-Marie Slaughter also talks to it in her article. She had different priorities when working for the US State Department than in her role at Princeton. She believes academia offers more flexibility for working parents than public service. In the tech industry, the same holds true for start-ups vs more established companies. The important thing is to be clear about your priorities!