Courage. It was a recurrent theme at the WICT Leadership Conference, and certainly at Tuesday’s session, “Can women have it all?” Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of the The Atlantic’s most-read and highly controversial article “Why Women Can’t Have It All,” braved the stage as a panelist. That in itself may have taken courage, sitting before a room full of women who might answer a decided “yes” to the panel’s query. Indeed, at WICT’s Touchstones Luncheon the day prior, Woman to Watch Jennifer Hightower, svp, Law & Policy for Cox mentioned the article on stage. Reading it had made her “mad” because it claimed that only a select few women could have it all. On the contrary, was her response: “Having it all doesn’t mean that one is perfect or doesn’t have help along the way.”
 
But Slaughter’s comments proved that she had more in common with the audience than the article—or at least the visceral reaction to it by readers—might have implied. One of the reasons she felt compelled to write it (besides being spurred on by a group of young Rhodes Scholars) was because everyone she knows “wants a saner life,” one in which you can stop and reflect for moment, without being tethered to technology and the deluge of information that floods us daily. “There’s a sense that somehow we’ve gotten way out of kilter,” she said.
 
The core principle Slaughter meant to convey: It’s not one woman’s fault for not “having it all,” but rather the fault of a society that doesn’t allow you to be flexible in creating a work/life balance. “It’s important to want it, but it is not enough,” she said. Her choice to leave the State Department in order to stay home with her teenaged children was frowned upon. “If you do anything other than take the next promotion, you have failed in some way.” But investing in your family and what you truly care about actually makes you more productive in work, she added. “When family comes first, work does not come second.”
 
Interestingly, Slaughter’s words echoed those of Hightower: “Having it all doesn’t mean having everything you want.” But the societal change that’s required can’t be up to just individual women or men, she said. Working in foreign policy, Slaughter was always one of the only women in the room, but she hopes that will change over time as more people tell their stories of successes and failures at “having it all.”

The Daily

Subscribe

People

Allen Media Group tapped Raoul Marinescu to fill the newly-created

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up