#ViewFromMyWindow | Women Still Can’t Have It All?

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No, it’s not the viral post by Anne-Marie Slaughter, though that is one article all must read. This post is just an outlet for those things I have been mulling over for a few months now.

 

Why women still can’t have it all? Do women really ever have it all?

 

It’s not just a question or a statement, it is rather a fact of life. A truth we deny, even ridicule but face in one form or the other. No matter what anyone says, women have to struggle, sacrifice and suffer in their quest to balance family, motherhood, their hobbies and work. There’s just no easy or politically correct way of saying it and perhaps that’s why women still can’t have it all. At least not easily.

 

One of the things Sheryl Sandberg insists upon in her book Lean In is that women should sit at the table. And I agree. But consider this.

 

A woman wants to sit at the table, has every intention and ambition too but then suddenly the man in charge of the table decides it is better to have a man at the table. Why? Because the general perception of people in power is women will eventually not give their careers priority. Those who are not yet married will one day get married and those married will eventually have children one day. Maternity leave and then motherhood are seen as liabilities. According to those bosses at the table, these life changes will somehow make women look away from their careers, make them less focused at work. So what happens is that even before the woman gets to grab a seat at the table, the chair, all the chairs, in fact, are offered to anyone but the ones will uterus and ovaries.

 

A woman’s family life is considered an impediment to her career goals or a step backwards. Strangely though none of these fears ever surround men or are raised for men, even remotely.

 

Consider this – a husband and a wife, both become parents when they have a child. The husband goes about his career as usual. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in that. There is no change in how he is perceived at work either. Being a father is a feather in his cap, a good thing. But when the mother joins work eventually she is seen as someone who is not serious about her career. Questions are raised about her commitment to work. So, being a mother is seen as a step backwards at the workplace. And God-forbid she works in a place which micromanages the time she spends at work instead of the quality of her work, she might as well kiss any career progression there good-bye. And that’s why perhaps women still can’t have it all.

 

Even before the woman gets to grab a seat at the table, the chair, all the chairs, in fact, are offered to anyone but the ones will uterus and ovaries.

 

The workplace even today is filled with biases and women are forced to drop out of the race one by one. Or, they are forced to look for avenues which, let’s just say, don’t match with their degrees or what they had trained for. They are forced to go for lesser paying jobs or jobs with no career prospects. So, you see, women somehow are forced to give up even if they don’t want to.

 

A woman's family life is considered an impediment to her career goals or a step backwards.… Click To Tweet

 

It might be said that even one woman fighting can bring about change but you see the change doesn’t come in her lifetime and she ends up being the one who couldn’t have it all.

 

It is not as if these women are not committed enough or that they don’t have ambitions. They want to and they all fight but the system, the apathy is so deeply ingrained that it becomes a choice between your sanity and losing it completely. So, before you judge someone for saying that women can’t have it all or that it is harder even if we want to, take a pause and think. Think hard.

 

I have met many women who had to give up on their initial career choices. Was it because they weren’t serious enough? Of course not. Even the insinuation is wrong, sacrilegious in fact . They fought, fought hard but eventually had to move to something else because the system was too rigid and unaccommodating. Of course, there are those who have been lucky to have found their second calling. But still, they did have to give up something, face roadblocks. They had to struggle.

 

There is always something that a woman gives up or a certain degree of it to achieve the quintessential everything. There is always a trade-off. So, even if she at some point says she has everything and she might, there will have been something she had given up. That’s a reality very few men have to face at least not as a norm.

 

Actually, the complexity of the issues, obstacles and stonewalling that women face or are subjected to are far too diverse to incorporate within a post. This is beyond just you and me. It encompasses and affects each one of us, even those women who think the others are crying foul.

 

The systemic barriers are way too much and sadly the fight seems to have stagnated. Dare I say, there are still miles to go before we sleep. There are still miles to go before women can have it all. But there is something that is heartening in all this, slowly, steadily and quietly women are trying to fight this. Maybe not in ours but in a generation much after ours, women will truly be able to have it all.

 

Your views, please.

 

PS: I’m a vigorous and vocal supporter of women. I want each and every woman to have it all and not give up anything. Nothing at all. Never.

 

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22 thoughts on “#ViewFromMyWindow | Women Still Can’t Have It All?

  1. What can l say, Naba. A thought provoking post. I do wish that we had equal opportunities and perceptions for women. It is as it is a struggle to handle so many spheres especially once you have kids that if the workplaces and society does not pitch in, then many women fall by the side. Bright, intelligent, capable women who can make a lot of difference to nation building. I experienced it first hand. I am one of the few who took on something else and made a career out of it. But yes, l could have come much more. Hopefully, change will pick up pace.

  2. Your post is thought provoking and I pondered on this for a while before commenting. Perhaps I’ve been lucky with the places I’ve worked at but motherhood has never a barrier for me. I worked part time when my kids were young – does that mean I gave up something? Actually not, I gained a lot being with them. I hope too that women can have all they want and my belief is that they can. It’s a matter of perception. Life is not about always getting what you want – we win some we lose some. It’s about what’s important to us.

  3. This is definitely thought provoking. It’s funny because I have a post in my drafts titled ‘You CAN have it all.’ I think ‘having it all’ depends on your definition of ‘all’. I am not struggling, sacrificing or suffering – in fact I am happier and more balanced than before I had my daughter. Motherhood has not been a barrier for me. I work for a very flexible and supportive company. I actually take my baby to work with me. My employers encouraged me to try this when they knew I wanted to return to work.
    I do agree with a lot of your points though (especially re. parenthood being seen differently for men and women) and I know that my experience is probably in the minority.
    Very interesting post. I look forward to reading some more of your posts too.
    #mg

  4. This is definitely thought provoking. It’s funny because I have a post in my drafts titled ‘You CAN have it all.’ I think ‘having it all’ depends on your definition of ‘all’. I am not struggling, sacrificing or suffering – in fact I am happier and more balanced than before I had my daughter. Motherhood has not been a barrier for me. I work for a very flexible and supportive company. I actually take my baby to work with me. My employers encouraged me to try this when they knew I wanted to return to work.
    I do agree with a lot of your points though (especially regarding parenthood being seen differently for men and women) and I know that my experience is probably in the minority.
    Very interesting post. I look forward to reading some more of your posts too.
    #mg

  5. Bang on about what women have to face ,if they want it all.Sometimes it’s so,hard we either give up or brainwash ourselves to believe this is what we want.
    After studying for years and doing better than everyone ,you will still come last if you have an uterus and a pair of ovaries.

    Very true.
    But if we make enough noise maybe the next generation of daughters will face less pain.

  6. Bang on about what women have to face ,if they want it all.Sometimes it’s so,hard we either give up or brainwash ourselves to believe this is what we want.
    After studying for years and doing better than everyone ,you will still come last if you have an uterus and a pair of ovaries.

    Very true.
    But if we make enough noise maybe the next generation of daughters will face less pain.#mg

  7. Agree with you on all the points as its all true about women in our society. Very thought provoking post which makes me think about all the situations in which we women have to sacrifice things to make things easy for others. Situation is of course different from our mom’s times but still there is lots which need to changed.

  8. Another thought provoking post, your writing always inspires me to think more deeply about life. I absolutely believe that you can have it all but I think it depends on what your definition of all is. For me, I wanted to give my children all of my time, and I knew that I couldn’t do that if I was to go out to work each day. As they grow and are in full time education I will be able to juggle both and I think then, I shall have it all. #mg

  9. I have mixed feelings here. Firstly, no one can have it all – male or female. There are choices to be made. One path sacrifices another. I do agree that women, more often than not end up juggling more to do with their families and this makes life way more complicated. I have also seen with friends the difficulty this poses at work. We do tend to give up more for our families. It would be great to think that women and men have choice, though and are treated with equal merit based on what they have to offer. In many ways women learn so much through raising children that in fact they might be better employees, but this is not seen at all. Thought provoking post as always. Thanks #mg

  10. Great post, and a little sad, because we cannot have it all. By the mere fact that I ask for time to go the the ballet performance, I’m viewed differently and need to make up the time. Family matters. CHildren matter and so does work, especially if you are into paying bills, clothing and shelter… but especially after this last election in the US, I find it hard to believe we will shatter any ceilings very soon. But, let me tell you, GAME ON. Because I have two girls and they deserve to have it all. Thanks so much! #mg xo

  11. You had me nodding throughout the post, Naba. For someone like me who takes sabbaticals from work often due to my commitments as a mother, there’s always a sea of raised eyebrows that I need to face before proving myself all over again. Thankfully, our generation of women and the ones to come are born fighters and we won’t give up on this easily.

  12. You’ve raised some very valid points Nabanita and I agree with ALL of them. I’ve also asked myself this question countless times – why, just why can women not have it all? I think the way we were raised and the way we took it upon ourselves to focus on family first has a lot to do with why men never face that dilemma. I have seen it first hand and can see how all the women I know are having to juggle so many roles, constantly trying to strike a balance as a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, and what have you that at some point or the other, we decide to give up the fight for the sake of survival.

  13. I have seen women of my family facing most of the things you wrote about. For them, their family and their job is all they have to think about. If they even think of socialising, they get looked down upon, or receive a lot of complaining looks from the men. The ‘rush’ that their lives are, exhaust me! Taking care of the kitchen, the child and his studies and the office are all they do, mostly without any assistance from the men. The men are “too tired” after a hard day’s work to go help the missus in the kitchen (as if she was sleeping at her work desk all day long!)
    This attitude needs to change. I am hoping the coming generations bring about that change…soon!
    It was a great post, Nabanita!

  14. What an honest post and I agree to each word there.
    The point you are making is valid. A mother is the primary caregiver in almost all households across the world. While is expected to balance home and work, the expectation is not the same with men. They continue with their life outside of the work. A few good ones take over many responsibilities but that percentage is less. With that thing, when women take up work after child birth, they are seen as weak and then follows all that you have listed. But I also feel that this is changing. If a woman sees it’s not, she needs to take a stand. I have seen mothers who are awesome at work and managing it all and have a BIG seat at the table. I know it’s hard but it’s possible. I wish more women take the reins in theor hands and then possibly we can change things.

  15. For women it is always a choice… either she gets a career or she gets a family. She is never given the third option of both, which men get. And it sure is hard. This would change if there is a sort of equilibrium in everything we do in society. Where men tend to the home too.

  16. Lots of valid points there, Naba! I think it’s difficult for anyone to have it all, whether man or woman, but of course, biology means that women have it harder! Men are never asked if they have to choose between a family or a career – it’s a given for them, but women have to make all the difficult choices and suffer whatever consequences arise from those. I wish workplaces were more sensitive to the needs of women so that we had more of an opportunity to actually ‘lean in’.

  17. Patience is what a woman’s big support. Women of today are harassed in a sophisticated way because they have very less patience and by the time we realize, sometimes its too late. One needs to be diplomatic not only with office or colleagues, but even in family. Take time on your decision, judge, and then make the hit. This all we can do because if you simply go and ask for our sanity, the opposite finds us rebellious. Diplomacy and patience are such powers that a woman use to make her things done. For example- “wearing shorts in 40s in a conservative family or surrounding people is an art and maintain too well and be in the limelight is real diplomacy”….

  18. In a country where the Queen rules and there’s a woman in power at the top it’s surprising that we don’t live in a matriarchal society rather than a patriarchal one. #mg

  19. I’m gonna quote Twinkle Khanna here from her book ‘The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad’.

    “Every woman wants a cape, but is handed an apron instead.” This sums up most of what I want to say. I have written about this topic earlier, but sadly the situation is still the same. Women need to have it all and they can. Provided there is no one trying to bring them down.

  20. Life is very different for a man at work after becoming a father than a woman becoming a mother. The father is congratulated like he is a hero and the women is seen a liability in many cases. It is not equal! I am struggling trying to find the right balance at the moment between my career and the fact that my children have been so ill. #mg

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