Saturday, November 9, 2013

Can Women Really Do It All?

Ever since re-entering the workplace, I've had quite the challenge with balancing work and home life. I work 6 hours a day (not counting an additional 2 hours commute time, round trip) in an industry where 6 hours a day is considered sleeping on the job. But this schedule allows me to be a somewhat SAHM to my daughter. I pick her up from school everyday, make sure she does her homework, feed her dinner, etc. I've managed to have it all!

Only, I don't have it all. What I've succeeded in doing is spreading myself really thin while falling short of everyone's expectations. I don't have much of a career path at work since I can't put in endless hours and travel at a drop of the hat. My daughter has expressed disappointment when I'm late in picking her up (which is often since LA traffic is such a nightmare) or not being able to attend the Halloween parade or other school activities.

Can women be all things to all people? According to a book I read, it is possible. The book is called, Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have it All by Sharing it All, written by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober. The thesis of the book is straightforward. If both people share in the workload at home, they can both enjoy fulfilling careers. The book's authors concede that it isn't always possible to divvy everything up 50/50 all the time. Sometimes, one partner's career needs will require the other partner to do more of the work at home. But the authors feel that over the long haul, there should be close to a 50/50 split.

This book has led me to start reading Leaning In, by Sheryl Sandberg. I just started reading this book. It mostly addresses the issue of the lack of women leaders in politics AND in corporations. I know when I graduated from college in the 80s, and started working, the lack of women in leadership roles seemed perfectly natural since women were relatively new in the workplace. Now, about 25 years later, women still haven't filled their fair share of the leadership spots. Why is that?

According to Getting to 50/50, a big reason is that women are opting out to raise children. Whether they are leaving jobs such as I did to stay at home, or returning to lesser roles with more flexibility, women are missing out on key opportunities during what would be the prime of their careers.

I've only read one chapter of Leaning In, so I can't really discuss what Sheryl Sandberg has to say, other than it appears she feels that women undermine themselves in a number of ways that hurts them in the workplace.

I'm finding this all interesting. In my magical world, I think it would be great if workplaces allowed for different career tracks, allowing for career growth even for those that ratchet their careers down a notch or two during the child rearing years. I know this probably isn't realistic, but I think there's an immense amount of talent that is leaving the workplace or not working up to the full potential.

What do you think? Can women have it all? What sacrifices have to be made?

Note: I was given no compensation for plugging the two books mentioned, although I do work with one of the books' authors (and no, it's not Sheryl Sandberg).


  1. No. We can't have it all. All decisions require some sort of compromise. I think the best we can do is understand that we are in fact making choices that have consequences so that we can choose wisely. The women who have it all, have it all because they have a stay at home husband and even then they don't have it all because they are missing out on the stuff hubbies who work as the primary earner miss out on. Everything has a trade off.

  2. I know this is not the right post to comment this in, or maybe it is because it is about books. I have commented before here about me and my own daughter that is very similar to yours <3
    I just read the most fabulous blog and the blogkeeper is also the author of a book about being a child with AS, growing up through adolesence and adulthood. Check it out.