Posted by: maddiebogan | March 14, 2019

Women leaders “having it all”

We have been talking in class a lot about women “having it all” and how successful women leaders also balance their family lives. This is a topic I have been thinking about lately as I get ready to graduate and enter the real world. I also recently got engaged so as I start to plan my life with my future husband, I’m thinking about how I will balance my career and my family and if I will be able to “have it all”.

Often times successful women leaders who have families are asked how they do it or what they think about “having it all”. An article I found discussed what certain women leaders felt about that phrase and the three themes among the interviews were you can have it all but not at the same time, what exactly are women leaders “having” when it is said they have it all, and having it all can be overrated. I have attached this article and although it is very short, it is still just interesting to hear these women’s perspectives on the question of having it all. In the part of Shonda Rhimes’ book we read as well as the article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, they discuss how women actually can’t have it all because while you are succeeding in one area, you are failing in the other. I think this is very true and in order to achieve a good balance of work and family, you need help whether it be from a spouse, a nanny, or just a flexible job.

We have also seen in class how many women in top leadership roles today are advocating for women to push to the top of their career and lean in, as Sheryl Sandberg put it. This bothers me because while it is amazing when women achieve these top leadership roles, they aren’t for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, if a women wants to pursue a high leadership position than she absolutely should and no one should hold her back, however, these leaders are portraying it as work should be more important and women should be focusing more on their career so that more women can be in top leadership positions. To me, family should always come first because as you age and reflect back on your life, more often than not you will not regret missing a meeting or not staying late in the office but you will regret not spending enough time with your kids or your spouse. I think if a woman has a job she loves and it is flexible enough to allow her to still spend time at home with her family, she should not be pressured to have to go after a higher leadership role if she doesn’t want to. It just seems as if there is so much pressure on working women today to achieve top leadership roles in their career in order to have more women in those positions.


  1. From the article you included, I really liked the quote “slugging through a decade of work but losing touch with your family and friends or with your community creates its own sense of failure.” As a college student, especially a CNU student, I think there have probably also been times where we have each been in a leadership role or involvement that has led us to become so so focused on our work/role that we begin to neglect relationships. I have definitely experienced it. And I don’t necessarily mean we lose touch with every relationship. But maybe we cancel our weekly lunch date with a friend or we forget to make a phone call home to catch the family up to speed on life. So I think it is important to recognize that all of the articles we are reading and all of the discussions we have had regarding this work-life balance is important because I personally think it begins long before a lot of the articles are making it seem like.

  2. I really enjoyed this article, and I agree with you on how people regret if they miss out on family times. I think it is so easy for us to be consumed in school and work that we forget that life is so much bigger than that and there is so much more than a good grade or promotion. I often get so absorbed in school that I will cancel family or friend time, and when I look back on my life a couple years from now, whats really going to matter? I definitely think besides faith, family should be everyones top priority, but thats just my opinion because those other factors are important to supporting your family.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post and the article! I like the part of the article where it talks about the second takeaway discussing what this phrase even means. She brings up a good point when she says “having it all means entirely different things to different women.” I think this is important to mention because there is no definition of what “having it all” means. I think all women probably think of this phrase in slightly different ways. Maybe for someone, having it all would entail working a part-time job while raising a family, but for someone else it would include striving to reach the top position at work while making time for relationships on the weekends. While I personally want a family at some point, not every woman wants one and that’s okay too. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I think when people use the phrase “having it all,” it puts pressure on women to readjust what they define as their priorities even if they are perfectly content with their lives.

  4. I totally agree with this post, and have been thinking about this topic a lot the past week or two as we have been discussing the concept of women leaders “having it all” balancing both family and work. To me, the definition of the phrase “having it all” varies from person to person. It’s difficult to compare individuals and have a “model” example set to balance work and home, when really, it’s different for everyone and circumstances change. My family is the most important thing to me, and that strong bond is when I feel I have it all. For some people, it could be flipped, and being successful at work would entitle them to feel that they have it all. As Melanie Healey said in the article, “having it all can be overrated”. Maybe this is something too distant of a concept where women should focus on what is most important to them, not trying to juggle things to fit the stereotype of “success”.

  5. I understand what you’re saying about starting to think about how to balance work and life as the end of our college careers approaches. I started to freak out a bit thinking about how I would do it all, forgetting that I will have a support system to help me through it, whether that be friends, my boyfriend or my family. I also loved your comment on saying that women pushing into the ceiling and getting top jobs isn’t something for everyone. So many things are talking about how women need to work hard to get those top jobs and must be successful in those and have a family and this and that and the other. But that’s not for everyone. What is important to consider is how we also push this on men. We push men to get high paying jobs and they must be working and doing great, and we scowl at them when they want to be a stay at home or work a lower paying job or a job that isn’t as highly rated as others. Sometimes we think oh that’s so nice and kind of them when they’re the stay at home dad, but we also turn around and say, when are you going to get back out there? Changing how we view men and their work/life balance can help us to change women’s work/life balance.

  6. This discussion of “having it all” has really stuck with since we started talking about it, so I really enjoyed reading what you had to say and the article included. I, too, believe that family should come first when it comes to choosing between a meeting or recital. My family is one of my top values in life, so when it comes to decision making, I always consider how my decision would affect them and whether or not I would look back and regret choosing something else over family. I like how you mentioned the Shonda Rhimes reading because I think it is important for women to realize it is OK to confess to not being able to have it all. I also liked the same statement Hannah chose from the article in which the definition of “having it all” is different for every person. For some women “having it all” may not even involve kids, therefore a balance between work life and home life may not be seen by other people; however, every woman has their own life, a different life from every other woman, therefore “having it all” has many different perspectives. I do believe though that no matter how you define “having it all” there will still need to be a give and take of what you prioritize and what’s more important, possibly leading to making difficult decisions that make you give up or fail in another area. Women shouldn’t be ashamed to admit they can’t do it all because it’s OK to fail, it’s OK not to be superwoman. I believe that these give and take decisions allow women to recognize what’s important in their life and what values they have in order to choose what comes first, family/friends or work.

  7. I really enjoyed your post and congratulations on your engagement. I think the topic of “having it all” is very fascinating as well especially since it generalizes everyone as wanting the same thing. Me personally, I want to travel the world and I know I cannot do that when starting a family the same way as I could by myself. I am a leader that does not always feel the need to reach the top of the ladder or achieve high positions in my involvements because I see the value in all positions or “behind the scene” positions. I appreciated and agreed that society can place pressure on working women to pursue higher positions simply to help women behind them be able to make it. People should feel they can pursue their dreams whether that is reaching the top positions in their field or being happy in the positions that they are in lower on the ladder.

    Family is a strong value in many people’s lives. I agree that if that is a something that someone needs to make a priority in their life, they are not being lazy or turning down opportunities because they are chasing what they value most in life. Balance is so important in having a mentally/physically healthy life and I think this looks so different for everyone. I agree with everything mentioned in your post and think it is a great reminder for people to support others in their endeavours whatever that may be.

  8. I enjoyed reading your post and the articles we have discussed in class because I think this is one of the biggest topics to be discussed surrounding women in the workplace. This is a reality that women have to face every day because often women are the primary homemakers and/or caregivers to children. And I don’t think that is a bad thing- I think women are generally very gifted at making houses into homes and caring for their children, and I think that should be celebrated. But I also think we should be empowering women who do want to have a successful career at any level. I think a big part of the “leaning in” idea is about what we read regarding the amount of women who leave their jobs for their family (or other reasons) and then try to return and find it difficult to be successful going back. I think that it is natural and reasonable for women to start to step back from their jobs in order to start planning for what lies ahead of them in the other spheres of their life, I think it is also a good point that women shouldn’t stop pushing for their career success as they prepare to take a leave of absence. I was shocked when I read the statistics about the number of women who are unable to return to work even though they tried. So I think the idea of continuing to “lean in” to their jobs until they are no longer able to is smart because it keeps the door open for a successful return should the woman choose to go back. But I agree with you that women shouldn’t be pressured to go back or to push beyond what they want.

  9. The idea of “having it all” has really stood out to me this semester too as we’ve discussed it in class. I think about how when those women are asked “how do you do it all?” many women don’t actually have it all figured out and when answering the question they continue on like they do and give some superficial answer. Shonda Rhimes alluded too that in the chapter of her book we read. Additionally, I agree that there is a push for women to excel at their jobs and many women are speaking out about the importance of that. I also agree with you in that if that is what women want they should go for it, but there is also value and importance in prioritizing family. It makes me think back to the readings from last week and several women and even our guest speaker, Marge Connelly, either said or alluded to regrets when it comes to not prioritizing their families in the way they should have. For me, personally, I would rather look back and think “oh I wish I would’ve taken that job” instead of “oh I wish I could’ve spent more time with my family”.

  10. This idea of “having it all” has come up many times in our readings and I am glad you did a post on it. I believe that it is not impossible for women (or men) to have it all as I think that having it all means allowing for some sacrifices somewhere else in your life. I think a balance between work and family is very important but just because one day you spend more time at work or one year you spend more time focusing on your children, to me, does not mean you do not have it all. I think having a supportive spouse and a flexible job helps immensely in this idea of having it all. With a supportive spouse, if I am ever in this situation I will feel more comfortable with spending more time at work. With a flexible job I will feel more comfortable focusing on family. Life is all about sacrifices and having it all, to me, does not mean that you have to have it all at the same time. Your family will be there when you have a rough day, week, month, or year at work to help pick you up. Businesses and companies today understand the need for family. The definition of having it all is different for me but with sacrifice and balance I believe anyone can have it all.

  11. First of all, congratulations on your engagement! I too have been thinking about how I will manage work and family in my future. I wonder if I will be able to “have it all.” I plan to have children sometime in the future, and I wonder why I find myself worrying about the work life balance now. Perhaps it’s because of our discussion in class or perhaps it’s because it is something I need to think about while I consider a job. I agree that personally, family will always come first for me. However, it’s important to note that other women feel differently. All in all, whether somebody chooses family over work or working over family time, I think we shouldn’t shame women for their choices.

  12. I like this topic! This reminds me of a scene from Parks and Recreation (I don’t know how many of you are familiar with it). There’s one episode in a later season where Ben, the protagonist’s husband, is running for Congress. As a result, Leslie is at the center of a lot of public events and affairs, namely this one event called the “Pie-mary” where a lot of the candidate’s wives participate in a pie baking competition. To make a long story short, she ends up contesting the need to participate and attempts to allow Ben, who enjoys cooking, to enroll. In the meantime, there is much debate about sexism, feminism, and “meninism” over the course of the episode, leading Leslie to give a funny yet provocative speech at the end. One noteworthy quote from that is “Stop asking me–‘Leslie, are you trying to have it all?'” That’s a stupid question, stop asking it.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: