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Women have been carrying on a conversation with themselves and with other women for the past several decades: Can we have it all - the career, the spouse, the children in a way that leaves us completely enriched and satisfied? Not many of us are able to answer with a resounding, "Yes!"
Several years ago, when Hannah Rosin’s article in the Atlantic Monthly brought one of the biggest questions confronting today's woman to the forefront, the blogosphere came alive. Women responded to "Can Women Have it All?" with heartfelt stories of their own struggles to work outside the home in pursuit of a career which still taking care of their children and shepherding them to become caring citizens. In her article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," Mary Slaughter recounts her personal journey from holding a high position in the first Obama administration to her decision to change direction and spend more time taking care of her children.
The story continues in a new book, Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World. She argues that today's woman must "lean into" opportunities. The book provides advice on how to negotiate for a top salary, for a promotion, and for child leave. Her ultimate aim is to create a new social movement to empower women in the workplace.
Sandberg has had more opportunities than most - Harvard graduate, Treasury department protégé of Larry Summers, previous executive at Google – so it's not surprising her book has met with criticism. Critics point out that Sandberg's own life has been so charmed - high powered job, children, spouse, trappings of wealth -- she cannot begin to understand the realities that the majority of women face, making her unqualified to lead the social movement she is looking to create. That may be so, but what Sandberg does do is encourage women who have spent years in college and graduate school to claim what is due them. To stand up for equal pay for equal work. She allows young women to dream of what can be.
What Sandberg has done is keep the conversation about life/work balance going.
How do you manage the work/life balance in your own life?