Can women indeed “have it all,” and what does that even mean?

Jun 26, 2012

Using computer in bed

A young woman trying to crunch some time brings her work to bed. Credit: iStockPhoto

The modern woman most likely juggles her time between family, job, and any semblance of a social life she’s able to pull together in her spare time. Successfully keeping all of these plates spinning means to “have it all” – but is that even possible?

The women’s movement of the 1970’s seemed to hold out that promise, as women achieved equality in the workplace. But in a recent op-ed for The Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter, mother of two young sons, wrote that she left her dream job at the State Department after two years because of the strain on her family life. To her own surprise, she says, she now believes women can’t “have it all.”

But what does “have it all” really mean? How can one possibly measure success in all three arenas? Is “having it all” a realistic goal for women – for anyone – to aspire to? If you “have it all” – what’s your secret?


Anne-Marie Slaughter, writer of The Atlantic article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”; Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

Rebecca Traister, contributing writer,

Lori Gottlieb, writer of The Atlantic article, “Why There’s No Such Thing as ‘Having It All’ –and There Never Will Be;” Author of “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” (Dutton Adult)

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