Posted by: danielledelucia | March 19, 2015

Opting Out and In

This clip is a CBS news segment with Lesley Stahl , Sheilah O’Donnel, and Lisa Belkin on why women opted out of employment. The news clip was inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s lean in approach that we learned about in class. CBS decided to investigate why women decided to opt out of their careers to stay at home and raise their children. They interview Stahl about her 60 minutes piece from 2001 when she first starting to investigate the trend of these highly educated and achieved women deciding to stay-at-home instead of working full-time with kids. Stahl was astonished that these high achieving women would quit their jobs because Stahl grew up in the early feminist movements when it was very rare for women to be in high positions of these major companies and law firms. She wanted to know what was different about the new generation and their decisions to opt out. Stahl saw these successful women as the potential leaders of this country, but they kept leaving work before that opportunity could ever be achieved or granted.

Belkin pointed out that the differences in the ideology about ‘having it all’ is changing with each generation. Stahl’s generation ‘having it all’ meant that women had the choice to have a career or stay at home. The next generation that Belkin and O’Donnel were apart of saw that they could make a choice in opting out and felt guilty about leaving work or staying home, so the ‘having it all’ did not seem possible to them. As our generation begins to take over the work force the idea of ‘having it all’ is changing according to Belkin. It is mentioned about how people are obsessed with balance and finding balance in their home and professional lives, but as the economy has decline that pendulum of balance has leaned more to the professional side of life especially for parents. The decline in the economy has forced women to keep working or go out and find jobs which are not being offered to them anymore.

I do think that these women have the choice to opt-out, but like the reading mentioned in some cases they are forced to come to that decision for various reasons. I think that business should be accommodating for parents because in today’s society parents need to take time off sometimes to take care of children and they should have job security when they are able to come back or allowed part-time work. I know we having been reading about these grandiose ideas of ‘having it all’ and being a good parent and full-time employee. What kinds of changes in the ‘having it all’ idea will be different when our generation begins to enter the workforce especially in regards to women?

As mention before Stahl thought the generation after her would be the next group of leaders and women would begin to bring equality into these high positions that men have being dominating for generations. Do you think that if Belkin’s and O’Donnel’s generation did not opt-out would they have made a difference in female leadership in our country or would we still have a prominently male leaders? Will our generation create a equal gender representation in leadership position or will we also succumb to opting-out of these high successful fields?


  1. I definitely think that if Belkin’s and O’Donnel’s generation did not opt-out would they have made a difference in female leadership in our country. However, I do not think that there generation alone would have changed the norm of there being predominately male leaders in the workforce. It is going to take numerous years of combined efforts by women to be able to create somewhat equal representation in the workforce. Like any major movement, change does not come within a year or two. It takes several years of consistent advocating and action in order to produce noticeable change. For example, Brown v. Board of Education was brought to the supreme court in 1954. This landmark court case was an early significant stepping stone in the American Civil Rights Movement. Years and years of advocating and action followed until African Americans were given full equal rights *(on paper that is). With this being said, I think it is possible for America to work its way up toward equality when it comes to women leader rights. Do I think our generation will create equal gender representation? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, I do think that our generation will generate significant influence toward achieving the ideal of gender equality.

  2. I think the idea of ‘having it all’ will become less of an idea of living a perfect life and more of the realization that you have to make sacrifices in order to have a life full of family, employment, and time for yourself. I think we are becoming more practical and I hope that we are not basing the idea of “all” off of a societal standard but rather off of what we desire for our personal lives. That is to say, instead of striving for the perfect family, perfect job, and nails and purse to boot, we will work towards a life that is meaningful and complete for our personal selves.
    I do not know if the past generations decision to “opt out” ruined the chances of gender equality in present-day leadership. I am sure that we would have made a little more progress by now if they had but I think that there were still too many stereotypes and obstacles in their way. I think that equal gender representation is possible only if companies create more flexible work schedules. If they do not, women will continue to ‘opt out,’ or more appropriately, they will basically be forced out because of unbending work requirements.

  3. I think the “opt-out” process is very interesting because it has so many perceptions, depending on who you talk to and what generation they grew up in. When reading the articles in class, I tried to imagine myself in the other women’s positions and I don’t think I would’ve chosen to continue a career over my family if I didn’t have any other choice. I think it’s hard for parents, especially mothers, to have to decide to opt-out of the workforce to support their families monetarily if they have no other choice.

    Growing up, both of my parents worked while my brother and I went to daycare and I don’t feel like the two of us missed out on any family experiences. I think that employers should consider the differences in lifestyles of their employees who have families versus employees that don’t. I don’t think that the “parent” employees deserve any special treatment, but the differences in lifestyles should still me considered regardless.

  4. I don’t think that if their generation would’ve stayed in the work force it would’ve made a difference because I don’t think that women opting out is the only force behind women not being in the top positions at companies. I think that we could be further along but I don’t think sexual harassment or thinking women can’t handle higher up jobs because of being mothers would stop. Women who want to stay in the work force and be CEOs aren’t getting those positions because of other factors besides trying to have it all and create balance in their lives. I do believe that our generation is changing the definition of having it all. A new way of thinking of having it all is creating balance and having both work and family. Or maybe it is living a healthy life and that may be staying at home or that could be going to work and putting in the hours and work to get promoted. I think the main problem with the argument of opting out is the judgment from women put on to other women. We are supposed to be fighting on the same side but other women look down on women for their choices of opting out and it is a shame because if we all fought together on the same side we would be much farther ahead in the fight for equality. What would the world look like if women all banded together and fought alongside each other not against each other? Do you think we will get to that point some day? With the new generations changing definitions of having it all, do you think the judgment will stop amongst women?

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