Women in the News: Not Having it All, Fun vs. Prince, and Title IX’s Anniversary|
We’re not calling it “having it all anymore”-Thanks, Atlantic Monthly!
The story is not new and has been debated many times: The struggle of women to “have it all” and effortlessly balance a successful career and a happy family. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor and the first female director of policy planning at the State Department, talks in this month’s The Atlantic cover story about her struggle to have a career and be there for her family – and she woke the Internet from its heat-related nap.
Slaughter asks for “the usual”: that employers be more flexible and that they allow employees to work from home; that they stop seeing having a family as a disadvantage that makes women less productive. School schedules need to become more like work schedules and parents have to work together. But she raises another, even more important point for women of our generation: You have not failed if “you don’t have it all.” It’s not your fault and you are neither weak nor lack ambition and drive. It’s not you, it’s the system.
Women can be ambitious and determined– plan their lives from the time they enter college until they retire. There are other factors that influence our lives and careers: politicians who make laws and regulations, employers who decide when you have to be at the office, who to promote and how much longer you will have a job. And (of course) raising a family has fairly strict requirements: children who need their mother, mothers who want to see their children for more than merely their sleeping hours, and fathers who have to agree to staying at home.
Yes, we have to create a supportive and flexible environment that makes it easier to balance family and a career but more importantly, we have to change our perception: Choosing family over a career or a promotion is not failing. It should just be one possible path that is just as valuable and fulfilling as the other.
Maybe it’d be a helpful notion to get away from calling whatever “it” is “having it all” altogether and take some of that pressure off. Having it all doesn’t just happen when you want it all but has more to do with living in an environment that makes it possible to balance the important things in life.
There is a new League in town!
Meet Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women. It’s a group of 60 executives, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, artists and government officials who create, organize and oftentimes fund new and innovative initiatives and projects to make the world a better place. The League wants to inspire, deliver resources and remove barriers for girls and women so they can live up to their full potential. There’s plenty of research out there to back up the idea that investing in girls and women will ultimately benefit the whole society: An education will increase a family’s income, delay pregnancies or (arranged) marriage; improved physical health will benefit financial health. The wonderful thing about investing in women: They usually re-invest the knowledge and income so not only their family but also their neighborhood, town and country can be transformed. Founding business opportunities for women and giving them the opportunity to contribute help a country’s economy and ultimately opens up a largely untapped potential and market shares.
A lot of the projects are very focused to one area but have a tremendous and inspiring impact: Micro-lending, micro-distribution, micro-work projects, and micro-entrepreneurs have a macro-impact on a society. Good things seem to come in Leagues.
Happy Birthday, Title IX!
Now let’s raise our Gatorade bottles for Title IX! Forty years ago Title IX was signed into law and since then, sexual discrimination in any educational program that received federal funding was banned. Even though it wasn’t specified in the law, Title IX had its biggest impact in athletics. Schools had to start offering girls scholarships and access to sports facilities, equipment, and coaching – and that opened up a whole new world. Before 1972, only one in about 27 girls played sports, now it’s one in two. Giving girls access to athletics greatly improves their future: It not only boosts their health and helps them socialize, it also makes them better in school. Female athletes are more likely to graduate, less likely to smoke or use drugs and their risk of becoming pregnant at an early age is much smaller. Most of all, Title IX gave women self-confidence – a truly priceless gift that makes them immediate winners.
Having Fun v. Having a Handsome Prince: Fun Wins!
Last but not least: If you had enough ice cream and lemonade and still need a way to cool down: Pixar just released it’s first movie with a female lead. Brave tells the story of a Scottish princess who doesn’t want to get married – instead she wants to ride horses and fight like a boy. A lot of people have overanalyzed the stereotypical storyline and complained that Pixar missed a big chance to shatter the animated glass ceiling with a 3D arrow. But sometimes, you just want to be entertained and escape the heat and everything that comes with it, right?