The best thing I read this past week was Anne-Marie Slaughter’s essay, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”, in The Atlantic. (Thank you, Stephanie Burgis, for linking to it on fb!) It’s a long, thoughtful, nuanced article that, despite its deliberately provocative title, is a powerful argument for fairer, more flexible working conditions for Americans.
Essentially: nobody who is tied to a rigid work schedule can hope to “have it all” – by which Slaughter means professional success and work-life balance. And while Slaughter is talking primarily about women like herself – affluent, powerful, highly educated mothers, the kind who most people see and marvel, “How does she do it all?” – it’s also applicable to men.
Are you up for a long read? If so, I’d love to discuss it with you. My main questions so far are:
- Slaughter is a seriously elite academic, talking about other super-high-powered women. What does her argument mean for average workers – for example, someone who works in retail and has to be in in the workplace in order to work?
- Why hasn’t Slaughter questioned the very idea of the mega-hour work week? Is it really an achievement to work from home if you’re still sending email at one a.m.?
What are your thoughts and questions?