A cautionary tale was told by Anne-Marie Slaughter in this month’s Atlantic Magazine. Entitled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, she purports to challenge the myth that women can have it all including positions of power, being super mothers, and meeting their partners at day’s end with meatloaf, boas and stilettos. It is a well written article that quite frankly left me agitated.
Ms. Slaughter consistently referred to a very narrow band of women who are educated and perhaps on the higher economic rungs. For my personal value construct, this was a bit difficult to swallow as I am an advocate for all women. Many simply do not have the luxury of wondering if they are on the right career path, whether the father of their children will provide for the family or whether they can take a career “off ramp” to be with their kids. They are working, parenting, trying to get ahead and often living by trying to keep all the loose ends tied together. Despite this personal values conflict, there were some universal truths about the challenges that women face in life. I encourage you to read the article and see if you find yourself in her treatise. She makes some courageous statements.
Reading her article reminded of a brave speaker at a women’s business conference I once heard. She said that her life had four parts. The parts were her children, significant other, career, and self. She said that at any time all four areas needed attention to some degree. She boldly told the group of 500 in the audience that she found it impossible to tend to more than three at a time on her best day. She said that often her husband and self were the orphans in the equation. The “amen chorus” and head nods abounded with this bit of honesty.
After reading this I was struck with, can anyone really have it all?
Women and men want to have satisfying careers, love their children deeply, and have avocations. They seek to care for their communities and aspire to insure that their children have as good a life as possible. I am not sure that if this article was written about men that it could be said that they can have it all either. Everyone is working harder, and some of the murmuring about jumping off of the career track can be even more taboo for men to be at home due to society’s norms. Working longer on someone else’s schedule makes it difficult for balance regardless of gender. And the last four years of this economy exacerbates it all.
Having control over your schedule is the only way to insure that you can have most of it. To do this, millions of women are turning to entrepreneurship to find the balance of home, self, productivity and prosperity. This is why women’s business starts are growing at 1.5 times faster than our male colleagues and the fastest growing segment of business. Time and time again, I hear entrepreneurs tell me that they are choosing the entrepreneurial path so that they can have more of life’s bounty. They can put their commitment and passion into something that they love, often while addressing home and child rearing issues.
The flexibility that entrepreneurship can bring, especially online or home based businesses, can help to have women have most of it. It may be your time to launch into this world of self-work and find a new way to find more or “the most” of it.