It’s never been an either/or thing for me. It’s always “and.” I am a writer AND a mother. But I know for far too many women it’s not that simple. Between the work-life imbalance guilt, the ridiculously uneven playing field, the pitiful parental leave policies in the US, and this potentially hollow bid to have it all, women are left feeling that they have to make a choice. They cannot effectively be more than one thing.
But now Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has a new book coming out next month called Lean In that encourages working mothers to give up on either/or and instead go for “and” — choose both.
In her recent piece in The Atlantic, journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon calls Sandberg’s philosophy — and movement — a radically realistic solution for working mothers. As Lemmon wrote:
“In a women-in-the-workplace discussion consisting mostly of ‘either/ors,’ Sandberg’s argument in the upcoming book Lean In injects the word ‘and’ into the conversation in a way that urges women to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work. Choice is good, and so is aspiration. Ambition is great, and so is telling your boss that you want to have children. Working hard at your job is important, and so is finding a way to leave the office early enough to be home for dinner with your kids.”
Of course there’s criticism brewing. Of course. Come on, you know that is a must. The New York Times review of the movement (more than the actual book) smartly notes this:
“Even her advisers acknowledge the awkwardness of a woman with double Harvard degrees, dual stock riches (from Facebook and Google, where she also worked), a 9,000-square-foot house and a small army of household help urging less fortunate women to look inward and work harder. Will more earthbound women, struggling with cash flow and child care, embrace the advice of a Silicon Valley executive whose book acknowledgments include thanks to her wealth adviser and Oprah Winfrey?”
Do you think that’s true? Will women rally behind this idea, this movement that we can indeed be more than one thing; we don’t necessarily need to choose? (Also curious: Is this debate and issue something that women outside of North America struggle with? Is the working mom in Italy grappling with either/or?)
Definitely leave your thoughts below!