From the department of righteous indignation:

I will depart from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a brief bout of righteous indignation, which, while not technically about law or nursing, affects nurses and lawyers, so here ya go! –Nurse

Have ya seen this? Did ya hear this? Women can’t have it all. 

Anne-Marie Slaughter gets it wrong. Her article is not really about women– it’s about parenting. 

First, she identifies a very real problem: that women are in fewer leadership positions in business and government  that women are paid less, and that this needs to change. But for Slaughter, it needs to change so that these women leaders will let other women spend more time with their children. So she has brought this very real issue of gender inequality back to the desire to spend time with children– implying that women care about this greatly, and men do not. She points to a “maternal imperative felt so deeply that the ‘choice’ is reflexive.” Her argument rests on the fact that she, and some other women, don’t WANT to work long hours in high-powered jobs when they have young children. This situation is, in a way, exactly what she insists that it is not: being less committed to work. It is not, however, a problem just for women. Choosing between work and other pursuits affects everyone. Perhaps, a generation behind Slaughter,  I have view my own options as a woman differently; when I went to college, more women were enrolled than men, birth control was available without hassle, and “alpha-wives” could be married to house-husbands.

 

Slaughter writes that the choice to take time out of the fast-track life to be with children is ultimately damaging to women’s careers. This is true– and it’s ok, when the women in question are the ones who choose to spend more time with their families. The effect is the same on men who do this. Why shouldn’t people (not just women) who would rather spend more time at work than raise families advance faster at work? This IS a choice, and not only for women. What is really damaging to women is when employers take the same position that Slaughter just did– that women feel a deep “maternal imperative” and will always choose family over work. This position creates prejudices against young women. Am I going to disengage and quit my job at any minute that my ovaries start tingling? Are my male counterparts immune from the allure of choosing other things over work? Absolutely not. So while “family friendly” policies and work-life balance are  good ideas for a host of reasons, it’s not about women. So let’s call it what is is.  When Slaughter write of “having it all,” she means having a high-powered career while also having children and spending time with them at home. If that is “all,” I’ll pass.