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Can Women Have It All?

A successful career. A loving marriage. Well-loved and well-behaved children. The promise of women's liberation holds that women can have all of this if that's what they want. But one teacher wrote in the Daily Mail yesterday that telling a young girl that she can reach the top of the career ladder and raise a family is passing on nothing more than a fairy tale. This not-so-modern woman thinks:

"The young women we are sending out into the world believe they can have it all — and, if they don't, they will have failed. And what a tragedy that is, because the truth is that modern women can't have it all. They may succeed in their careers and they may succeed as mothers, but to do both at the same time? No, that is not possible without making huge sacrifices which many will find simply too much."

Obviously life is full of compromises and trade-offs, but I don't think that means women have to choose between success outside the home and success inside the home. With a little balance, I think women, just like men, can manage both. What do you think?
Photos courtesy of AMC

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lilxmissxmolly lilxmissxmolly 6 years
Both my parents work full-time, but I never felt deprived of a mother or father. And it makes me really angry when people suggest that my mom is incompetent for having a career. (And also, why can fathers have a career if mothers can't?)
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
I'm an engineer and I don't think in my profession women can be successful while having children or at least being a good devoted parent. It is assumed that I will work a minimum of 50-60 hours a week, just like my bosses do. I work with almost no female engineers that are in high positions and the one that I do know told me she knew if she wanted to move up in the engineering field that she had to make the decision to not have kids. The few female engineers I know who have kids eventually quit because they couldn't handle the stress and hours of engineering combined with being the one to take care of the kids. I am astonished at how my current coworkers (all male) have children and never see them. Most of them are here 12-14 hours a day during the week and show up for 4-8 hours each weekend day.I'm looked down upon because sometimes I get cramps with my period that causes me to throw up and miss work for a day. And grad school sucks - you don't have free time. I am surprised my husband (then boyfriend) stuck it out. I was on campus from 7 am until 10-11 pm every day. I'd be in the lab on weekends running tests. If my S.O. wanted to see me, he had to swing by my grad office in between classes or stop in and talk to me while I was running lab tests. Grad school doesn't stop for holidays - if tests have to be run on Christmas day, well you can't sacrifice the research. My advisors preferred to take on male grad students because they thought women would miss too much time due to our monthly female issues. They also preferred to take on international students because they wouldn't have a problem working on Christmas day since they may not celebrate our holidays and even if they did, they had too far to travel to justify going home on holidays. A fellow student going for her PhD had not seen her husband and duaghter in 4 years - not since she came to the U.S. to begin her research because the department wouldn't allow her off long enough for her to fly home to Taiwan. It was so demanding, I look back on it and think thank god I wasn't married and had bills, a family to support, a household to maintain because it just wouldn't have happened.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
I'm an engineer and I don't think in my profession women can be successful while having children or at least being a good devoted parent. It is assumed that I will work a minimum of 50-60 hours a week, just like my bosses do. I work with almost no female engineers that are in high positions and the one that I do know told me she knew if she wanted to move up in the engineering field that she had to make the decision to not have kids. The few female engineers I know who have kids eventually quit because they couldn't handle the stress and hours of engineering combined with being the one to take care of the kids. I am astonished at how my current coworkers (all male) have children and never see them. Most of them are here 12-14 hours a day during the week and show up for 4-8 hours each weekend day.I'm looked down upon because sometimes I get cramps with my period that causes me to throw up and miss work for a day.And grad school sucks - you don't have free time. I am surprised my husband (then boyfriend) stuck it out. I was on campus from 7 am until 10-11 pm every day. I'd be in the lab on weekends running tests. If my S.O. wanted to see me, he had to swing by my grad office in between classes or stop in and talk to me while I was running lab tests. Grad school doesn't stop for holidays - if tests have to be run on Christmas day, well you can't sacrifice the research. My advisors preferred to take on male grad students because they thought women would miss too much time due to our monthly female issues. They also preferred to take on international students because they wouldn't have a problem working on Christmas day since they may not celebrate our holidays and even if they did, they had too far to travel to justify going home on holidays. A fellow student going for her PhD had not seen her husband and duaghter in 4 years - not since she came to the U.S. to begin her research because the department wouldn't allow her off long enough for her to fly home to Taiwan. It was so demanding, I look back on it and think thank god I wasn't married and had bills, a family to support, a household to maintain because it just wouldn't have happened.
zeze zeze 6 years
I don't think so, I think we all have our own version of 100%...and for things to be done very well we need to give them more than just 50% of our 100. Splitting them equally will make both mediocre, average, or not as great as it could be (perhaps great compared to people who don't have as much power in the 100 as you do in yours) or else you must choose one or the other.Basically, life for women with families and careers is a zero-sum game.
zeze zeze 6 years
I don't think so, I think we all have our own version of 100%...and for things to be done very well we need to give them more than just 50% of our 100. Splitting them equally will make both mediocre, average, or not as great as it could be (perhaps great compared to people who don't have as much power in the 100 as you do in yours) or else you must choose one or the other. Basically, life for women with families and careers is a zero-sum game.
GMarie GMarie 6 years
Kevin J Weise - you make an excellent point. Because I chose to stay home with our son, I felt it was my responsibility to do EVERYTHING. I finally realized that in doing so (my attempt to avoid overloading my husband, who works very hard at his job and is SO supportive of my staying home) I was depriving my husband of a deeper involvement and understanding of his son and my son of real, focused time with his dad. When I made myself back off, their relationship blossomed. I know it sounds silly, but it really was hard for me at first. Now, I see the wonderful benefits for them both and realize my mistake. I'm pregnant now with our second child and will certainly "allow" my husband to take part more and to help me out more from the very beginning this time, rather than insisting that I can do it all myself. He's perfectly willing to do so - I just need to be willing to step out of the way a little bit.
runningesq runningesq 6 years
Beautifully said, Glowing Moon. Could I work 90+ hours a week in a big law firm, making $160K/ year as a first year associate, and have a family that I saw often and a full social life? Probably not... that's a lot to juggle, especially with that kind of workload. But: I work as a government attorney in a job that I adore and have a husband that love. We are planning on having children soon and while it will be a change in juggling time and priorities, I am confident we can do it. telling a young girl that she can reach the top of the career ladder and raise a family is passing on nothing more than a fairy tale. So what SHOULD we tell young girls? 1. Get a job and climb climb to the top of the career ladder, no family, no social life, OR 2. Marry a rich man, have babies, stay at home, don't think about a career. Ridiculous. "Having it all" is a personal decision. For some women "having it all" might mean a high powered career and a collection of art. For another it might mean a part time job and one kid. For another it might mean a loving husband and no children ... who travels a lot. It's personal, and to be told that I can't have it all is insulting. I can and I will have what I believe is what I want in life.
runningesq runningesq 6 years
Beautifully said, Glowing Moon.Could I work 90+ hours a week in a big law firm, making $160K/ year as a first year associate, and have a family that I saw often and a full social life? Probably not... that's a lot to juggle, especially with that kind of workload.But: I work as a government attorney in a job that I adore and have a husband that love. We are planning on having children soon and while it will be a change in juggling time and priorities, I am confident we can do it.<i>telling a young girl that she can reach the top of the career ladder and raise a family is passing on nothing more than a fairy tale</i>.So what SHOULD we tell young girls?1. Get a job and climb climb to the top of the career ladder, no family, no social life, OR2. Marry a rich man, have babies, stay at home, don't think about a career.Ridiculous. "Having it all" is a personal decision. For some women "having it all" might mean a high powered career and a collection of art. For another it might mean a part time job and one kid. For another it might mean a loving husband and no children ... who travels a lot.It's personal, and to be told that I can't <b>have it all</b> is insulting. I can and I will have what <b>I</b> believe is what I want in life.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 6 years
I think it's possible to have it all, just maybe not at the same time.
Studio16 Studio16 6 years
Yeah, but men don't really do it all. Most men I know work and come home to "parent" for a few hours and maybe play the loving husband that night. That's it. They're not the ones actually making dinner, washing the clothes, going to school functions. Women still need to do so much more than men, so it's really not fair to say that we can balance it all just like men. They're not balancing anything.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
While I am no fan of Sarah Palin, she actually made a good point on Oprah yesterday: it is possible for women to have it all, just not all at the same time. As your life progresses, certain areas will be overshadowed by others,and it's not realistic to think that you can always give 100% to every aspect of your life. I think this is a healthy view to have.
sourcherry sourcherry 6 years
No one can have it all. Life is about compromising, you'll always have to make choices... But a woman can have as much as a man does, as long as she's willing to make it so. But the sad truth is that in most cases (at least based on women I know) the husband is not the jackass who doesn't want to do housework or take care of the children, it's the wife who wants things done her way, and believes it's her duty to be more involved in those things than the man. Being a modern woman to most is insisting the man "helps". How about the man does half? I honestly don't get it... Obviously this is not the same as one choosing to be a stay at home parent, or choosing to reduce the hours at work. I'm talking about women who work as much as their husbands, and are miserable at work and home because of all the stress. I doesn't come with being a woman, it comes with being tied to the idea that it's your responsibility to do more. It's not.
sourcherry sourcherry 6 years
No one can have it all. Life is about compromising, you'll always have to make choices...But a woman can have as much as a man does, as long as she's willing to make it so. But the sad truth is that in most cases (at least based on women I know) the husband is not the jackass who doesn't want to do housework or take care of the children, it's the wife who wants things done her way, and believes it's her duty to be more involved in those things than the man. Being a modern woman to most is insisting the man "helps". How about the man does half? I honestly don't get it...Obviously this is not the same as one choosing to be a stay at home parent, or choosing to reduce the hours at work. I'm talking about women who work as much as their husbands, and are miserable at work and home because of all the stress. I doesn't come with being a woman, it comes with being tied to the idea that it's your responsibility to do more. It's not.
GMarie GMarie 6 years
I cannot speak for anyone else, but for ME, life is about thoughtful, considered choices, and most of the time when a choice is made, some doors will close. I knew this when I made the decision to stay home, and I have no regrets. I could certainly choose to have a full time job in addition to the full time job I already have, raising my children - my husband would support me completely, no matter what, but no matter how frantically I tried, I know that someone would lose, and why would I want to do that to myself? I can give my all to a job or I can give my all to my kids, but I can't do both right now. I recognize the reality of that, and that's okay with me. I don't like the idea of someone else raising my children for me - I genuinely WANT to do it myself, and doing for them is more important TO ME than any other career I might choose. Again - this is only speaking for myself, but I cannot picture myself desiring the immense amount of stress I would be putting on myself and those around me by trying to prove something and "have it all". In the end, I know I would feel that I had only part of one thing and part of another.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 6 years
I agree with a lot of the other posters. I am a lawyer who wants to get married and have kids. But I constantly struggle with the reality that having it all in the conventional sense will be very hard to achieve. So I've come to terms with it by realizing that when the time comes, I will figure out what I can do and what I can't do and what makes me happy. I do understand that whole PhD speech though. Top law firms often tell you that if you want to be partner, you can't have kids. So all of the female partners at large firms are single. It sucks because male partners aren't. On the other hand, a lot of my female classmates from law school are married with kids now, and they're quite happy and chose not to work in mega firms. And my boyfriend is doing his postdoc, and a lot of the women in his phd program had kids and it worked out fine. But it does take work and compromise from both spouses
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 6 years
I agree with a lot of the other posters. I am a lawyer who wants to get married and have kids. But I constantly struggle with the reality that having it all in the conventional sense will be very hard to achieve. So I've come to terms with it by realizing that when the time comes, I will figure out what I can do and what I can't do and what makes me happy. I do understand that whole PhD speech though. Top law firms often tell you that if you want to be partner, you can't have kids. So all of the female partners at large firms are single. It sucks because male partners aren't. On the other hand, a lot of my female classmates from law school are married with kids now, and they're quite happy and chose not to work in mega firms. And my boyfriend is doing his postdoc, and a lot of the women in his phd program had kids and it worked out fine. But it does take work and compromise from both spouses
oliviaoblivia oliviaoblivia 6 years
Woman can absolutely have it all. It just requires a supportive family and community. Availability of affordable day care, reasonable maternity leave and understanding employers help shoulder the burdens on women place on themselves. And @KadBunny my mother has a PhD in psychology, is the head of her department, and raised three happy, healthy and high-functioning kids without sacrificing her career. You can do it!
oliviaoblivia oliviaoblivia 6 years
Woman can absolutely have it all. It just requires a supportive family and community. Availability of affordable day care, reasonable maternity leave and understanding employers help shoulder the burdens on women place on themselves.And @KadBunny my mother has a PhD in psychology, is the head of her department, and raised three happy, healthy and high-functioning kids without sacrificing her career. You can do it!
sontaikle sontaikle 6 years
jjasinsk, wow I can't believe how sexist that meeting was! Yes I can understand the difficulty in having children during a PhD program, but to outright tell women what they SHOULDN'T do...just wow. I hope to eventually get a PhD myself (going to get a BA and MA soon), along with getting married and having kids. I don't intend for any of those things to prevent me from achieving the other.
sontaikle sontaikle 6 years
jjasinsk, wow I can't believe how sexist that meeting was! Yes I can understand the difficulty in having children during a PhD program, but to outright tell women what they SHOULDN'T do...just wow. I hope to eventually get a PhD myself (going to get a BA and MA soon), along with getting married and having kids. I don't intend for any of those things to prevent me from achieving the other.
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