Anne-Marie Slaughter’s by-now infamous article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” was read by over half a million readers within the first week of publication. It has touched a nerve with women in America and around the globe. Slaughter was the keynote speaker this Tuesday at the Women’s Resource Center’s Renaissance Luncheon, where she told us that her article “caught a wave, and it turned into a tsunami.” Slaughter said that “our country needs to value caregiving,” which is absolutely not happening currently; and that since her article’s publication, women have been thanking her for launching such an important conversation. But in contrast to the gratitude expressed, she has also faced an equal dose of disapproval, particularly from feminists who fear that she is setting the movement back by admitting that achieving true work/life balance is often an insurmountable hurdle.
She said that many people have also criticized her for being a perfectionist, but she joked, “If I could just show you a picture of my kitchen, [you’d see] perfectionism isn’t an issue.” Rather, she said that if “you can’t name it, you can’t change it,” so she felt it was important that a woman in her position get the ball rolling to begin to work toward meaningful social change. Slaughter would like to see “flexibility around caregiving” in the workplace. She said, “If family comes first, work does not come second; life comes together.”
I was honored to interview Anne-Marie, and I had the opportunity to speak to several other attendees about their reactions to the article and to the difficulties of work/life balance. You can watch our discussions in these videos from the Renaissance Luncheon, produced by McFadden Creative.