by Mary Ellen Eagan
The ongoing culture war about working women has been renewed by an article by Anne-Marie Slaughter (former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department) in the July Atlantic Magazine, and the announcement this week that the new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, is pregnant. This is a topic (minefield?) I normally avoid: while I am very proud of the fact that my pregnancy did not sway the HMMH Board of Director’s appointment of me as President of the firm in 2004, I also have dear friends who have chosen to stay home while their kids were infants, toddlers, teens, and even adults. When people ask (as the often do) how I manage to balance work and home, I tell them there is no such thing as “work-life balance”. It’s all a scramble, something is always behind schedule, and someone is usually frustrated with me because he or she is not getting enough of my attention – if not at work, then at home. My favorite pin reminds me.
However, I also tell them that I am incredibly fortunate to have the choice to attempt this balancing game, as my friends are fortunate to have the choice to stay at home. I think about the vast majority of women around the world who can’t afford this choice for economic reasons, or some of my male colleagues who don’t feel as though they can afford this choice for cultural reasons. I think about how fortunate people like Marissa Meyer and Ann-Marie Slaughter – and yes, even Mary Ellen Eagan – are to be able to have the resources – wonderful spouses, families, and nannies – to support this lifestyle. It takes a Village. Finally, I think that if people spent less time judging, and more time finding ways to be supportive of the entire range of working families, there’d be real progress in this debate.