Parenting

Parenting: Can career moms have it all?

Friday, October 19, 2012

An article in Atlantic Magazine is causing a real buzz among parents, grandparents and others. The author asks if feminists have sold young women a bill of goods, making them think they can have a serious career and be moms too.

The writer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, confirms the idea, saying even now there are too many roadblocks in business for moms to keep their careers going on a growth trajectory while raising a family.

I was a moderator at a panel recently discussing this, and two of the three panelists agreed with Slaughter.

One was an attorney who quit a big corporate firm and tried a boutique law firm hoping for more flexible hours. Within four months, she quit the boutique law firm and now works for herself doing legal matters.

Another was a psychologist who reached tenure before her first of two children was born. She felt more secure in her job, but still feels the deck is stacked against most women, based on her research.

The third panelist, a senior businesswoman who owns an executive search company and whose children are adults, says things are getting better but still aren't equal. She says employers are more willing to make exceptions for top-ranked, valued employees. However entry level workers, women in low-paying jobs and most others still have a huge struggle.

The article claims that only top pros who are rich, self-employed and can control their own hours or who are completely self-less and superhuman can manage work and family.

Throw in one uncontrollable - like a job opportunity out of town, a child who isn't doing well and needs special attention, a non-supportive spouse, or not having any extended family nearby, and the problem is compounded.

The article quotes numerous 30somethings who are stunned when the reality of home and work pressures sets in. One took two years off when her children were young, but had to work double-time to get back on track professionally. With that, she didn't see her kids much during the crucial toddler-to-teen years. Others say they rely on round-the-clock nannies.

Slaughter urges employers to close the "new gender gap" that's measured by well-being rather than wages. That way moms and families are not stressed out, unhappy and ultimately fall apart because they were trying to do it all.

Slaughter takes it even further and urges Americans to elect more women in office, in the U.S. Senate and for president to ensure that women are equally represented in the ranks of corporate executives and judicial leaders. She believes when women wield power in bigger numbers, then society will finally recognize the need to give moms a break.

Let me hear from you with your own experiences.

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