“Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” By Anne-Marie Slaughter
Anne-Marie Slaughter authored the article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” in 2012. She had experienced her moments at the top of her career, and she had felt firsthand what it was like to want it all and still feel like you lack some of what you dreamed of in life. In her article, Slaughter addresses the issue of trying to find the right balance between work life and family life. The difficulty of achieving such a balance is what limits most women in their professions. She has based her argument on her personal experiences as a director of policy planning at the state department. She also uses the experiences of other women to drive her point home, that women may not have it all, contrary to what they have been made to understand.
In her article, Slaughter explains why she could not have it all while she worked at the state department. At the time she was a mother of two young kids. The two boys were aged 12 and 14 years at the time. Slaughter’s greatest challenge was being away from her children at an age when they needed her most for guidance. She wanted to be there for them but her being in DC for work would not allow it. This was when she realized that she could not have it all. She could not have a high-level career and also balance the needs of her two teenage boys.
Slaughter’s assertions are quite personal but to some extent generalizable to most women. She points out examples of other women who found it impossible to balance her career life with family life. Michele Flournoy and Mary Matalin are examples of other high-profile career women who left their jobs to spend time with family. Matlin was an assistant to President Bush but quit her job because she wanted to spend time with her daughter. Flournoy resigned as undersecretary for policy in the department of defense. Flournoy also regarded her resignation as the only way she could spend more time with her children.
From the analysis, it is clear that as things stand women really cannot have it all. The problem is the structure of the society and the economic setup. In the analysis, Slaughter blames the problem on feminist ideologies. She believes that there is a specific reputation that has been built for women, and women struggle to live up to this reputation. Slaughter, however, tries to explain to women that they do not have to take up the yoke without question. They do not have to give up their happiness to achieve the much-craved professional success. Women need to do what they feel is good for them, not for the feminist philosophy.
This is an important lesson for women. World over, women have been brought up with the notion that they can have it all without necessarily having to make any sacrifices because they are equal with the opposite gender. This has made women work harder in the professional career growth paths. However, most reach the top and find that it is lonely there. There are just a few of them there, and the majority of men on top do not understand what they have to go through. Women on top of their careers need to be with their families. It is this tendency to want to balance family and career that leads Slaughter to note that they cannot have it all.
Slaughter also faults the employment practices as one of the reasons why women may not have it all. In the analysis, she notes that she could not be with her family and work at the same time. This meant that she had to travel long distances on the rare occasions that she got to be free. Even then she felt distant from them. She had been staying long without having a good conversation with her teenage boys. In their teens is when the boys need guidance the most. As an absent parent, she would have to live with whatever her children turned out to be later in life if she were not there to offer guidance.
To be able to overcome the challenge, women need a more flexible employment setup. They need to be able to determine the hours they work and where they do their work. Only in this way can the women work during the hours when they are not meant to be with their family. It is also the only way that they can determine their work locations so that they do not have to leave behind their family for long. However, this is not feasible under the present employment set up. As a result of these issues, women may not have it all as they would have wished. This is the reason why a lot of women will be forced to either choose a lower cadre job or no job at all to be with their family or follow their career passion at the expense of their family.