Women In The News: Can Women ‘Have It All’? Let’s Talk

The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Elite Women Put New Spin on Old Debate” (front page, June 22), about the discussion stirred by Anne-Marie Slaughter’s magazine article:

For working mothers to succeed, workplaces and career trajectories need to be overhauled to reflect the realities of parents’ lives. In our study of 240 parents with professional careers, most felt overwhelmed by the conflicting demands of raising children and career but desired to do both well. When one had to give, mothers were not willing to sacrifice family.

Climbing professional ladders is front-loaded in years that coincide with fertility and child-rearing; clashes between family and career needs are inevitable. Workplace changes — on-site child care, flexibility and paid parental leaves — would be a start. Envisioning careers over longer time lines with more varied trajectories, not simply success in the early years, is another.

These changes will be hard to accomplish until society recognizes the value of raising children and respects what science shows and parents know: children need available, emotionally responsive parental care. Such care takes not only time and physical presence but also effort and energy.

New York, June 23, 2012

The writer is the director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and principal investigator of the Parenting Young Children Study.

To the Editor:

In 2004, my girlfriends and I drove five hours to watch Anne-Marie Slaughter challenge Justice Antonin Scalia on the merits of international law. She posed for a picture with us, four young women enamored of her wit and ability. She was everything I wanted to be, and I followed in her footsteps to law school.

Years later, I saw her speak again. After a laudatory introduction, she blushed and said her greatest achievement was raising children.

At 25, I was stunned. How could she compare the ordinary work of motherhood to her accomplishments as a political theorist?

Recently, I declined my dream job as a civil rights lawyer for a less stressful position with reasonable hours and maternity leave. Again, I look to Ms. Slaughter. At 31, I finally hear what she has been saying all along: professional women need not carry the responsibilities and joys of motherhood in shame.

Hoboken, N.J., June 23, 2012

To the Editor:

The Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s videotaped talks challenging young women to take their futures in their own hands are not a reproach but a call to cognizance for our generation. Ms. Sandberg has highlighted the personal challenges that many women — herself included — encounter when balancing career and family.

She does not minimize the presence of these challenges, but encourages women to acknowledge these obstacles and to be proactive in overcoming their effect on the status of women today.

Her words are honest and motivational, and inspire many young women to embrace their full potential.

There is also an element of time and place that is essential to the discussion of this important topic. As young women, my peers and I understand the compromises we will likely endure as we venture through our adult lives. We discuss these truths with our mothers, mentors and friends.

At moments set aside for turning tassels and celebrating successes, however, we must not be invited to discount our greatest hopes or to abandon our wildest dreams. If we are left to imagine personal futures that are less full or less vibrant than our aspirations dictate, nothing will ever change.

Brooklyn, June 23, 2012

To the Editor:

In listening to the arguments about what women must sacrifice to have a career, I think it is wise to remember that men should also strive to have a balance among family, personal life and career.

I have often heard speakers at conferences thank their families for sacrificing time with Daddy so that he can go off on the lecture circuit. I would much rather apologize to my audiences for not giving more lectures so that I can spend time with my family and friends.

New York, June 22, 2012

The writer is a clinical associate professor at the New York University College of Dentistry.

To the Editor:

Many women can and do “have it all.” They just can’t necessarily have it all at once.

San Francisco, June 22, 2012


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  4. Reblogged this on Space for lasam and commented:
    Women In The News: Can Women ‘Have It All’? Let’s Talk

    by LadyRomp

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