Career, kids & hobbies – Can women have it all?
The recently published article “Women can’t have it all” by Anne Marie Slaughter (Atlantic Magazine) emphasizes an interesting point of view concerning women in leadership positions. The author tells from own experiences that – at least in our systems today – it is still not possible for women to combine an ambitious career with a family. Nevertheless feminist beliefs are telling exactly that for decades! Slaughters opinion is that by pretending the framework conditions are alright we put to much pressure on the women because they are searching for the reasons for ‘failure’ by themselves. Either they are not passionate and committed enough for their career or they are no good mothers – or even both. The women feel as they are to blame when the reconciliation of career and family does not work out. So the author points out that it is important to bring this aspect of ‘can’t having it all’ into discussion – even though critical voices blame statements like that as being demotivating to young women who want to strive for a career and eroding the feminist beliefs and achievements.
Of course young women should ‘dreaming big’ concerning their future – but isn’t it important to plan the own career with knowledge about the framework conditions? Still a culture of presence predominates the companies, the kindergarten and school systems do not fit to working hours and the “normal” manager is somebody who is ready for action all day because his (or her?) spouse takes the load of him (or her?). When women – as well as men – decide to take on a career they should clearly know about the obstacles they presumably have to face to be able to make profound decisions. Facing this situation the Generation Y seems to be more open to the statements of Anne Marie Slaughter than the previous generations which fought for the emancipation. Young women are not willing to pay the high prize of taking a pass on children and family as especially the female academics of today are doing. As the economy needs the skilled workers of the upcoming generation, companies and politicians will face the challenge to come up with a better framework for the reconciliation of career and family. Otherwise talented parents will turn towards more progressive employers or decide to go for family, not for career. The culture needs to change towards a more flexible way of work. With having control over the own schedule the goal of taking care for the family whilst making career is much easier to reach. Still positions in the top management require a lot of time and are difficult to handle for single parents or parents with a working spouse – also when framework conditions do change.
So, what do you think: Can women have it all?