Many of us were brought up to believe that we can “have it all” – that a woman can have a family AND a thriving career, and that the fact that we are women should never hold us back professionally.
These days, many moms – and some experts – are not so sure this is true. In a recent Forbes article, Dale Winston said that while a woman can climb up the corporate ladder, usually the home and the kids are still her responsibility. She, and not her male counterparts, needs to make compromises – whether working flexible hours, hiring a full time nanny or “sequencing” – taking time off after each kid is born.
Male executives are simply not faced with these tough decisions. They get to have a family and go on with their professional lives as usual, as if nothing has changed.
Then there’s the guilt. The intense guilt which all mothers who work outside the home – but few fathers – are familiar with. Of course, stay at home moms experience guilt too – they often feel guilty about not earning money and about “throwing their education away.”
Sounds like a lose-lose situation for women, doesn’t it?
The only real solution to women’s work-life balance issues is a major shift in cultural norms and expectations, so that mothers are not viewed anymore as being solely responsible for the house and for raising the kids – even if they are employed fulltime.
If our culture will eventually come to see both parents as equally responsible for raising the kids, I would venture a wild guess that we would then see a huge improvement in daycare services and in flextime arrangements in the workplace.
Until then, I have to agree with Dale Winston. “Life is about balance and compromise. No one can ever ‘have it all’.”