Added: Tehani Reagan - Date: 13.10.2021 09:29 - Views: 10884 - Clicks: 9270
On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me.
And the spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.
As the evening wore on, I ran into a colleague who held a senior position in the White House. I told her how difficult I was finding it to be away from my son when he clearly needed me. She was horrified. By the end of the evening, she had talked me out of it, but for the remainder of my stint in Washington, I was increasingly aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet.
I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power, I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in Januarywhen my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, I hurried home as fast as I could. A rude epiphany hit me soon after I got there.
I have not exactly left the ranks of full-time career women: I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book. The first set of reactions, with the underlying assumption that my choice was somehow sad or unfortunate, was irksome enough. Suddenly, finally, the penny dropped.
Last spring, I flew to Oxford to give a public lecture. I concluded by saying that my time in office had convinced me that further government service would be very unlikely while my sons were still at home. The audience was rapt, and asked many thoughtful questions. But almost all assumed and accepted that they would have to make compromises that the men in their lives were far less likely to have to make.
The striking gap between the responses I heard from those young women and others like them and the responses I heard from my peers and associates prompted me to write this article. Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation.
My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a of uncomfortable facts that need to be widely acknowledged—and quickly changed. Both were demanding jobs, but I had the ability to set my own schedule most of the time. I could be with my kids when I needed to be, and still get the work done. I had to travel frequently, but I found I could make up for that with an extended period at home or a family vacation.
I knew that I was lucky in my career choice, but I had no idea how lucky until I spent two years in Washington within a rigid bureaucracy, even with bosses as understanding as Hillary Clinton and her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. My workweek started at on Monday morning, when I got up to get the train from Trenton to Washington. It ended late on Friday, with the train home. I was entitled to four hours of vacation per pay period, which came to one day of vacation a month. And I had it better than many of my peers in D. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had.
The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office—at least not for very long. I am hardly alone in this realization. Karen Hughes left her position as the counselor to President George W. Bush after a year and a half in Washington to go home to Texas for the sake of her family.
Yet the decision to step down from a position of power—to value family over professional advancement, even for a time—is directly at odds with the prevailing social pressures on career professionals in the United States. One phrase says it all about current attitudes toward work and family, particularly among elites.
This understanding is so ingrained that when Flournoy announced her reation last December, The New York Times covered her decision as follows:. How could anyone voluntarily leave the circles of power for the responsibilities of parenthood? Regardless, this sentiment makes true work-life balance exceptionally difficult.
But it cannot change unless top women speak out. Only recently have I begun to appreciate the extent to which many young professional women feel under assault by women my age and older. After I gave a recent speech in New York, several women in their late 60s or early 70s came up to tell me how glad and proud they were to see me speaking as a foreign-policy expert. After the speech I gave in New York, I went to dinner with a group of somethings. I sat across from two vibrant women, one of whom worked at the UN and the other at a big New York law firm.
As nearly always happens in these situations, they soon began asking me about work-life balance. Both were very clear that they did not want that life, but could not figure out how to combine professional success and satisfaction with a real commitment to family. I realize that I am blessed to have been born in the late s instead of the early s, as my mother was, or the beginning of the 20th century, as my grandmothers were.
My mother built a successful and rewarding career as a professional artist largely in the years after my brothers and I left home—and after being told in her 20s that she could not go to medical school, as her father had done and her brother would go on to do, because, of course, she was going to get married. I owe my own freedoms and opportunities to the pioneering generation of women ahead of me—the women now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who faced overt sexism of a kind I see only when watching Mad Menand who knew that the only way to make it as a woman was to act exactly like a man.
To admit to, much less act on, maternal longings would have been fatal to their careers. But precisely thanks to their progress, a different kind of conversation is now possible. I am well aware that the majority of American women face problems far greater than any discussed in this article.
I am writing for my demographic—highly educated, well-off women who are privileged enough to have choices in the first place. We may not have choices about whether to do paid work, as dual incomes have become indispensable. But we have choices about the type and tempo of the work we do. We are the women who could be leading, and who should be equally represented in the leadership ranks.
Millions of other working women face much more difficult life circumstances. Some are single mothers; many struggle to find any job; others support husbands who cannot find jobs. Many cope with a work life in which good day care is either unavailable or very expensive; school schedules do not match work schedules; and schools themselves are failing to educate their children. Many of these women are worrying not about having it all, but rather about holding on to what they do have.
And although women as a group have made substantial gains in wages, educational attainment, and prestige over the past three decades, the economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson have shown that women are less happy today than their predecessors were inboth in absolute terms and relative to men. Only when women wield power in sufficient s will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone. We must clear them out of the way to make room for a more honest and productive discussion about real solutions to the problems faced by professional women.
That is precisely the sentiment behind the dismay so many older career women feel about the younger generation. They are not committed enoughwe say, to make the trade-offs and sacrifices that the women ahead of them made. Yet instead of chiding, perhaps we should face some basic facts. Very few women reach leadership positions. The pool of female candidates for any top job is small, and will only grow smaller if the women who come after us decide to take time out, or drop out of professional competition altogether, to raise children.
That is exactly what has Sheryl Sandberg so upset, and rightly so. A hundred and ninety he of state; nine are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13 percent are women. In the corporate sector, [the share of] women at the top—C-level jobs, board seats—tops out at 15, 16 percent. A simple measure is how many women in top positions have children compared with their male colleagues. Every male Supreme Court justice has a family. Two of the three female justices are single with no children.
And the third, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began her career as a judge only when her younger child was almost grown. The pattern is the same at the National Security Council: Condoleezza Rice, the first and only woman national-security adviser, is also the only national-security adviser since the s not to have a family. To be sure, the women who do make it to the top are highly committed to their profession.
On closer examination, however, it turns out that most of them have something else in common: they are genuine superwomen. These women cannot possibly be the standard against which even very talented professional women should measure themselves. Such a standard sets up most women for a sense of failure.
The line of high-level women appointees in the Obama administration is one woman deep. Virtually all of us who have stepped down have been succeeded by men; searches for women to succeed men in similar positions come up empty. Just about every woman who could plausibly be tapped is already in government. The rest of the foreign-policy world is not much better; Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently surveyed the best data he could find across the government, the military, the academy, and Females only opinion needed on how nice or not this is tanks, and found that women hold fewer than 30 percent of the senior foreign-policy positions in each of these institutions.
These s are all the more striking when we look back to the s, when women now in their late 40s and 50s were coming out of graduate school, and remember that our classes were nearly men and women. We were sure then that by now, we would be living in a world. Something derailed that dream. I am all for encouraging young women to reach for the stars. But I fear that the obstacles that keep women from reaching the top are rather more prosaic than the scope of their ambition.
But changing these policies requires much more than speeches. It means fighting the mundane battles—every day, every year—in individual workplaces, in legislatures, and in the media. Andy has spent more time with our sons than I have, not only on homework, but also on baseball, music lessons, photography, card games, and more. Still, the proposition that women can have high-powered careers as long as their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load equally or disproportionately assumes that most women will feel as comfortable as men do about being away from their children, as long as their partner is home with them.
In my experience, that is simply not the case. Here I step onto treacherous ground, mined with stereotypes. I do not believe fathers love their children any less than mothers do, but men do seem more likely to choose their job at a cost to their family, while women seem more likely to choose their family at a cost to their job.
Many factors determine this Females only opinion needed on how nice or not this is, of course. Men are still socialized to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the breadwinner; women, to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the caregiver. But it may be more than that. Men and women also seem to frame the choice differently. But Matalin goes on to describe her choice to leave in words that are again uncannily similar to the explanation I have given so many people since leaving the State Department:. To many men, however, the choice to spend more time with their children, instead of working long hours on issues that affect many lives, seems selfish.
Male leaders are routinely praised for having sacrificed their personal life on the altar of public or corporate service. That sacrifice, of course, typically involves their family. Yet their children, too, are trained to value public service over private responsibility.
It is not clear to me that this ethical framework makes sense for society. Why should we want leaders who fall short on personal responsibilities? Perhaps leaders who invested time in their own families would be more keenly aware of the toll their public choices—on issues from war to welfare—take on private lives. Regardless, it is clear which set of choices society values more today. Workers who put their careers first are typically rewarded; workers who choose their families are overlooked, disbelieved, or accused of unprofessionalism.
In sum, having a supportive mate may well be a necessary condition if women are to have it all, but it is not sufficient. If women feel deeply that turning down a promotion that would involve more travel, for instance, is the right thing to do, then they will continue to do that. Ultimately, it is society that must change, coming to value choices to put family ahead of work just as much as those to put work ahead of family.
If we really valued those choices, we would value the people who make them; if we valued the people who make them, we would do everything possible to hire and retain them; if we did everything possible to allow them to combine work and family equally over time, then the choices would get a lot easier. The most important sequencing issue is when to have children. born when his mother is 25 will finish high school when his mother is 43, an age at which, with full-time immersion in a career, she still has plenty of time and energy for advancement.
Yet this sequence has fallen out of favor with many high-potential women, and understandably so. People tend to marry later now, and anyway, if you have children earlier, you may have difficulty getting a graduate degree, a good first job, and opportunities for advancement in the crucial early years of your career.
Making matters worse, you will also have less income while raising your children, and hence less ability to hire the help that can be indispensable to your juggling act. Unlike the pioneering women who entered the workforce after having children in the s, these women are competing with their younger selves. Government and NGO jobs are an option, but many careers are effectively closed off. Personally, I have never seen a woman in her 40s enter the academic market successfully, or enter a law firm as a junior associate, Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife notwithstanding.
These considerations are why so many career women of my generation chose to establish themselves in their careers first and have children in their mid-to-late 30s. But that raises the possibility of spending long, stressful years and a small fortune trying to have a baby. I lived that nightmare: for three years, beginning at age 35, I did everything possible to conceive and was frantic at the thought that I had simply left having a biological child until it was too late.Females only opinion needed on how nice or not this is
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