Can women have it all? A visiting scholar is not so sure

“Your life will never be the same.”

I heard this over and over when I was pregnant, and I responded with a polite smile and internal eye roll. But now I know that the mystery of becoming a parent is one of the few things that cannot possibly be explained until you experience it for yourself. What it’s like to go to college or take a trip to Europe or even to get married are all well within even an adequate storyteller’s capabilities. But the sea change that comes with giving birth is so transformative that superlatives fail me.I tell you this to explain why I am so excited that Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” in the July/August edition of The Atlantic, is speaking at the Ritz-Carlton this Tuesday, March 12 at noon for the Women’s Resource Center Renaissance Luncheon called “Redefining Balance.”

Had she given this talk before the birth of my daughter, I would have wanted to poke holes in her premise that women still can’t have it all. Like most career women, I never paused to consider whether or how I would achieve balance, I just was certain that I would. But now, with the understanding that comes from mothering, it is entirely apparent why Slaughter chose such a provocative (even anger-inducing) title for her important article.Slaughter, the mother of two, is an incredibly accomplished woman. She is currently the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. From 2009 to 2011 she served as Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hold that position, and was the dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002 to 2009. She is also the author of six books. She came to the difficult conclusion that women can’t have it all when she decided to leave her post at the Department of State after two years and return home to be with her husband and teenaged sons. She realized that, at least as far as she was concerned, certain careers do not lend themselves to parenting, and that families often suffer when one or both parents try to tip the scales toward career. If a superwoman like Slaughter can’t do it all, it is clear that it is time for everyone to have a discussion that is long overdue.

Janice Zarro, Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center, stated, “Women have new opportunities, wonderful opportunities, and they also have new challenges.” Zarro said that this talk is geared toward women of all ages because, in addition to their role as mothers, women are often caretakers for an elderly parent or spouse as well.

“Women strive for balance at all different times in their lives,” Zarro added, saying that she hopes that this program will help give women the tools they need to achieve their goals and to care for their families. She also has plans for the Women’s Resource Center to help foster this dialogue in our community following the event. All the proceeds from the program (tickets are still available for $95) go to the work of the Women’s Resource Center, which supports women in all aspects of their lives.

If you still wish to get a ticket to the Renaissance Luncheon, call 941-366-1700 or visit this website to get yours today! And be sure to visit This Week in Sarasota next week for my review of the program. I hope to spark a dialogue with our readers too!

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