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Guide Crazy Lady: Achievement Against the Odds

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CDs, access codes etc. If you have any problem about item condition,price or edtion, please contact Calvinbook. Myrtle Boykin Sampson. Condition Used New. Add to Cart. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office—at least not for very long.

I am hardly alone in this realization. Karen Hughes left her position as the counselor to President George W. Bush after a year and a half in Washington to go home to Texas for the sake of her family. Yet the decision to step down from a position of power—to value family over professional advancement, even for a time—is directly at odds with the prevailing social pressures on career professionals in the United States.

One phrase says it all about current attitudes toward work and family, particularly among elites. This understanding is so ingrained that when Flournoy announced her resignation last December, The New York Times covered her decision as follows:. How could anyone voluntarily leave the circles of power for the responsibilities of parenthood? Regardless, this sentiment makes true work-life balance exceptionally difficult.

But it cannot change unless top women speak out. Only recently have I begun to appreciate the extent to which many young professional women feel under assault by women my age and older. After I gave a recent speech in New York, several women in their late 60s or early 70s came up to tell me how glad and proud they were to see me speaking as a foreign-policy expert.

After the speech I gave in New York, I went to dinner with a group of somethings. I sat across from two vibrant women, one of whom worked at the UN and the other at a big New York law firm. As nearly always happens in these situations, they soon began asking me about work-life balance. Both were very clear that they did not want that life, but could not figure out how to combine professional success and satisfaction with a real commitment to family. I realize that I am blessed to have been born in the late s instead of the early s, as my mother was, or the beginning of the 20th century, as my grandmothers were.

My mother built a successful and rewarding career as a professional artist largely in the years after my brothers and I left home—and after being told in her 20s that she could not go to medical school, as her father had done and her brother would go on to do, because, of course, she was going to get married. I owe my own freedoms and opportunities to the pioneering generation of women ahead of me—the women now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who faced overt sexism of a kind I see only when watching Mad Men , and who knew that the only way to make it as a woman was to act exactly like a man.

To admit to, much less act on, maternal longings would have been fatal to their careers. But precisely thanks to their progress, a different kind of conversation is now possible.

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I am well aware that the majority of American women face problems far greater than any discussed in this article. I am writing for my demographic—highly educated, well-off women who are privileged enough to have choices in the first place. We may not have choices about whether to do paid work, as dual incomes have become indispensable. But we have choices about the type and tempo of the work we do. We are the women who could be leading, and who should be equally represented in the leadership ranks. Millions of other working women face much more difficult life circumstances.

Some are single mothers; many struggle to find any job; others support husbands who cannot find jobs.

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Many cope with a work life in which good day care is either unavailable or very expensive; school schedules do not match work schedules; and schools themselves are failing to educate their children. Many of these women are worrying not about having it all, but rather about holding on to what they do have. And although women as a group have made substantial gains in wages, educational attainment, and prestige over the past three decades, the economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson have shown that women are less happy today than their predecessors were in , both in absolute terms and relative to men.

Only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone. We must clear them out of the way to make room for a more honest and productive discussion about real solutions to the problems faced by professional women. That is precisely the sentiment behind the dismay so many older career women feel about the younger generation. They are not committed enough , we say, to make the trade-offs and sacrifices that the women ahead of them made. Yet instead of chiding, perhaps we should face some basic facts.

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Very few women reach leadership positions. The pool of female candidates for any top job is small, and will only grow smaller if the women who come after us decide to take time out, or drop out of professional competition altogether, to raise children. That is exactly what has Sheryl Sandberg so upset, and rightly so. A hundred and ninety heads of state; nine are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13 percent are women.

In the corporate sector, [the share of] women at the top—C-level jobs, board seats—tops out at 15, 16 percent. A simple measure is how many women in top positions have children compared with their male colleagues. Every male Supreme Court justice has a family. Two of the three female justices are single with no children. And the third, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began her career as a judge only when her younger child was almost grown. The pattern is the same at the National Security Council: Condoleezza Rice, the first and only woman national-security adviser, is also the only national-security adviser since the s not to have a family.

To be sure, the women who do make it to the top are highly committed to their profession. On closer examination, however, it turns out that most of them have something else in common: they are genuine superwomen. These women cannot possibly be the standard against which even very talented professional women should measure themselves.

Such a standard sets up most women for a sense of failure. The line of high-level women appointees in the Obama administration is one woman deep. Virtually all of us who have stepped down have been succeeded by men; searches for women to succeed men in similar positions come up empty. Just about every woman who could plausibly be tapped is already in government. The rest of the foreign-policy world is not much better; Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently surveyed the best data he could find across the government, the military, the academy, and think tanks, and found that women hold fewer than 30 percent of the senior foreign-policy positions in each of these institutions.

These numbers are all the more striking when we look back to the s, when women now in their late 40s and 50s were coming out of graduate school, and remember that our classes were nearly men and women. We were sure then that by now, we would be living in a world. Something derailed that dream. I am all for encouraging young women to reach for the stars. But I fear that the obstacles that keep women from reaching the top are rather more prosaic than the scope of their ambition.

But changing these policies requires much more than speeches. It means fighting the mundane battles—every day, every year—in individual workplaces, in legislatures, and in the media.

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Andy has spent more time with our sons than I have, not only on homework, but also on baseball, music lessons, photography, card games, and more. Still, the proposition that women can have high-powered careers as long as their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load equally or disproportionately assumes that most women will feel as comfortable as men do about being away from their children, as long as their partner is home with them.

In my experience, that is simply not the case. Here I step onto treacherous ground, mined with stereotypes. I do not believe fathers love their children any less than mothers do, but men do seem more likely to choose their job at a cost to their family, while women seem more likely to choose their family at a cost to their job.


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Many factors determine this choice, of course. Men are still socialized to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the breadwinner; women, to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the caregiver.

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But it may be more than that. Men and women also seem to frame the choice differently. But Matalin goes on to describe her choice to leave in words that are again uncannily similar to the explanation I have given so many people since leaving the State Department:. To many men, however, the choice to spend more time with their children, instead of working long hours on issues that affect many lives, seems selfish.

Male leaders are routinely praised for having sacrificed their personal life on the altar of public or corporate service. That sacrifice, of course, typically involves their family. Yet their children, too, are trained to value public service over private responsibility. It is not clear to me that this ethical framework makes sense for society. Why should we want leaders who fall short on personal responsibilities? Perhaps leaders who invested time in their own families would be more keenly aware of the toll their public choices—on issues from war to welfare—take on private lives.

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Regardless, it is clear which set of choices society values more today. Workers who put their careers first are typically rewarded; workers who choose their families are overlooked, disbelieved, or accused of unprofessionalism. In sum, having a supportive mate may well be a necessary condition if women are to have it all, but it is not sufficient.

If women feel deeply that turning down a promotion that would involve more travel, for instance, is the right thing to do, then they will continue to do that. Ultimately, it is society that must change, coming to value choices to put family ahead of work just as much as those to put work ahead of family. If we really valued those choices, we would value the people who make them; if we valued the people who make them, we would do everything possible to hire and retain them; if we did everything possible to allow them to combine work and family equally over time, then the choices would get a lot easier.

The most important sequencing issue is when to have children. A child born when his mother is 25 will finish high school when his mother is 43, an age at which, with full-time immersion in a career, she still has plenty of time and energy for advancement. Yet this sequence has fallen out of favor with many high-potential women, and understandably so. People tend to marry later now, and anyway, if you have children earlier, you may have difficulty getting a graduate degree, a good first job, and opportunities for advancement in the crucial early years of your career.

Making matters worse, you will also have less income while raising your children, and hence less ability to hire the help that can be indispensable to your juggling act. Unlike the pioneering women who entered the workforce after having children in the s, these women are competing with their younger selves. Government and NGO jobs are an option, but many careers are effectively closed off. Personally, I have never seen a woman in her 40s enter the academic market successfully, or enter a law firm as a junior associate, Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife notwithstanding.

These considerations are why so many career women of my generation chose to establish themselves in their careers first and have children in their mid-to-late 30s. But that raises the possibility of spending long, stressful years and a small fortune trying to have a baby. I lived that nightmare: for three years, beginning at age 35, I did everything possible to conceive and was frantic at the thought that I had simply left having a biological child until it was too late. And when everything does work out?

I had my first child at 38 and counted myself blessed and my second at That means I will be 58 when both of my children are out of the house. Many women of my generation have found themselves, in the prime of their careers, saying no to opportunities they once would have jumped at and hoping those chances come around again later.

Given the way our work culture is oriented today, I recommend establishing yourself in your career first but still trying to have kids before you are 35—or else freeze your eggs, whether you are married or not. You may well be a more mature and less frustrated parent in your 30s or 40s; you are also more likely to have found a lasting life partner. But the truth is, neither sequence is optimal, and both involve trade-offs that men do not have to make. You should be able to have a family if you want one—however and whenever your life circumstances allow—and still have the career you desire.

However, she goes even further: together with her sister Gertrud, a musician, she hides the Jewish sisters Andrea and Valerie Wolffenstein, saving their lives. Only later is due consideration given to Elisabeth Schiemann and her achievements: since , the Elisabeth Schiemann Kolleg of the Max Planck Society has been supporting particularly gifted young female scientists following their postdoctoral phase. Ms Turck, what do you find so fascinating about botany? Why did you become a botanist? My father, who was a professor of physics, inspired in me a love of research.

Science was always held in high esteem in our home. But I see myself more as a molecular biologist than as a botanist. After studying biotechnology, I worked for a while in cancer research. I actually came to botany purely by chance. It was important to me to study something applied. Plant breeding is crucial because it involves safeguarding the supply of food for the world. In her lifetime, women had an incredibly difficult time in science.

Elisabeth Schiemann overcame gender roles. She was one of the first women to be allowed to study science. I find it admirable that she had such foresight during the Nazi era and that she managed to keep her distance from the populist movements. Standing by her convictions was a remarkable achievement. For Elisabeth Schiemann, family was crucial. The family home was her greatest influence. Her father, a renowned historian and professor of history, was Theodor Schiemann.

She therefore grew up in an environment where science played a key role. Elisabeth Schiemann also never married, she concentrated entirely on her research for her whole life. Elisabeth Schiemann worked on the origin of crop plants. She thus defined a research direction that is more relevant than ever today. We now have access to genome data, which underpins this research. These days, growers often return again to the point of origin of a plant species, where the genetic diversity is greatest.

This is where certain resistance genes can be found, which otherwise are lost in the course of adaptation to new locations. Barley, for example, originated in a hot, dry environment and was introduced from there to colder regions before ultimately being cultivated in Spain. While things have improved considerably for women in science since the early 20th century, a lot remains to be done. What has your experience been in relation to career opportunities for women in science?

There are lots of great funding programmes around now that did not exist when I started my career. At that time, the only funding I was offered was one-third of a postdoctoral position for full-time work! That was like a slap in the face. I think it is a pity, however, that the current programmes are tied to so many conditions: you not only need to be a woman, you also need to be young. They enable women to very consciously support other women and to propose them for positions in science.

In an ideal world, mixed networks would be the norm but unfortunately we are a long way from that.