Career Women?

Have women finally figured out that it is impossible to have it all?  Can you really be a full time high powered executive and a full time homemaker, and be the best at both?

Interesting article on the front page of the NY Times called "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood".  Smart intelligent women going to top schools are already figuring out that when they hit their 30’s and have kids, it will be time to refocus that career. 

As a person who has gone through many careers, I found the data interesting but not surprising.  I look back at when I was working like a dog full time with young children and it was very hard to do both. Frankly I look back and am not sure how I did it all.   I am lucky that I don’t have to work at the present time but I certainly feel the urge to do something that would intrigue and challenge me mentally during the week but only under my schedule.  I like being there for the kids.  I think they get a lot from it too and by the way, so does my husband.  He can focus on what he needs to and now worry about the kids, the day to day, the other stuff.  That is my job. 

An interesting quote from Cynthia E. Russett, a professor of American History who has taught at Yale since 1967.  She says "At the height of the women’s movement and shortly thereafter, women were much more firm in their expectation that they could somehow combine full-time work with child rearing," and then she goes on to say "the woman today are, in effect, turning realistic."

It is interesting. What is realistic?  Everyone should be able to have the best education that they can possibly get.  Expand your mind, broaden your horizon.  If you choose to take a different path than the supposed working norm after 10 years, why not?  Teaching your children, helping with the school, working with a non-profit organization, whatever you choose.  I would hope that these statistics wouldn’t be of concert to the Admissions Departments at any University or College.  An educated society is better off no matter if you are working or not. 

Maybe the statistical information that has been documented should make us think of other ways to create balance.  Career and parenting.  Companies of all sizes should create better situations for part-time jobs that are still making an impact.  There is an entire work force of people who have a lot to give but aren’t given the opportunity to do it in their terms. 

The majority of families actually have to have 2 incomes to survive.  This article really focused on women that had a partner that allowed them the opportunity to stay at home and probably  not change their lifestyle that much.  Did the women’s movement of the past 30 years really make a difference? 

The answer is probably yes and no.  Yes women have more choices but no they still can not do it all.  Dr. Bushnell from the University of Pennsylvania said young women today, in contrast, are thinking and talking about part-time or flexible work options when they have children.  "People have a heightened awareness of trying to get the right balance between work and family."  This is good news.  Perhaps thinking aloud about this issue will create changes in the work force.

Something has to give and unfortunately it is usually your family life when you are working.   I am not sure that I have the answer on to how to create the perfect balance.  After all, I am not working right now but I have certainly told our daughters many times that they should think about careers that they can have forever that will be flexible for them when they have children, if they choose to stay home or even if they choose to be there when need be. 

If I had to go back and do it all over again, I’d think more about the careers that I chose.  I’d love to be able to find something that gets my juices flowing every day but allows me the ability to be home  by 3pm and still get some errands or whatever I need to do in the first few hours of the day.  I’m available for about 15 hours a week.  15 hours can make a big impact somewhere. 

I hope by the time our daughters graduate college there are more opportunities for life balance.  The article seems to say that people are just making choices one way or the other.  It would be great to have a little bit of both.  Stronger on the home front at times and stronger on the work front at other times. 

As my daughter Jessica said after reading through the article, "It’s tough being a woman".