Reading List || The Atlantic: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All ~ Anne-Marie Slaughter

27/06/2012 § 2 Comments

Image via The Atlantic.

By now, you’ve probably heard a bit about the controversy over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article for The Atlantic, in which she discusses the familiar difficulties surrounding the achievement of a successful work-life balance for high-performing, elite females.  Currently a professor at Princeton University and most recently the Director of Policy Planning at the US Department of State, I have been familiar with Slaughter for some time (mainly due to my work in political risk and the fact that I actually work quite closely with the gentleman that held the Directorship at Policy Planning before she did — so there’s a bit of a weird work/life crossover in this post).

Slaughter believes initial steps towards women truly “having it all” are a few key practical adjustments to working arrangements and — perhaps even more difficult — changing the way that women feel about working.  The latter, a realization that came sharply into focus when she decided to leave the public sector and DC, to return to her professorship and family in New Jersey:

“A rude epiphany hit me soon after I got there. When people asked why I had left government, I explained that I’d come home not only because of Princeton’s rules (after two years of leave, you lose your tenure), but also because of my desire to be with my family and my conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible. I have not exactly left the ranks of full-time career women: I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book. But I routinely got reactions from other women my age or older that ranged from disappointed (“It’s such a pity that you had to leave Washington”) to condescending (“I wouldn’t generalize from your experience. I’ve never had to compromise, and my kids turned out great”).

The first set of reactions, with the underlying assumption that my choice was somehow sad or unfortunate, was irksome enough. But it was the second set of reactions—those implying that my parenting and/or my commitment to my profession were somehow substandard—that triggered a blind fury. Suddenly, finally, the penny dropped.  All my life, I’d been on the other side of this exchange. I’d been the woman smiling the faintly superior smile while another woman told me she had decided to take some time out or pursue a less competitive career track so that she could spend more time with her family. I’d been the woman congratulating herself on her unswerving commitment to the feminist cause, chatting smugly with her dwindling number of college or law-school friends who had reached and maintained their place on the highest rungs of their profession. I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in. Which means I’d been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).”

Slaughter’s op-ed is a long read, but I urge you to read it.  As a single, professional woman without any children, ostensibly busy “concentrating on my career,” it gave me reason to examine my current priorities and wonder what I would do when (if?) the time comes for me to incorporate motherhood into my life, about the assumptions I operate under (Nanny? Of course), how much I might actually be willing to reorient my life and why I felt a kind of knee-jerk resistance to doing so.  I definitely doubt that anyone — men and women, alike — can read this op-ed without being affected.  Understandably, since being published on The Atlantic’s site last Wednesday night, it has gone on to be the most viewed article in the history of the magazine.

For further discussion, Slaughter’s op-ed has also inspired a number of passionate responses (e.g., Jodi Kantor’s piece in The New York Times, Rebecca Traister’s piece at Salon.com, Katherine Rosman’s piece on The Juggle for WSJ.com), and Slaughter will be doing a live Q&A with readers on The Atlantic’s site on Friday 29 June at 11am ET, which you can find here.

Also on the list:
The Wall Street Journal:  Lauren Mechling remembers a few “unprincessy” heroines (Ramona Quimby! Harriet the Spy!) in honor of Pixar’s first girl lead, the fiery haired archer princess Merida in Brave.

The Wall Street Journal: Michael Spector on the “singular, unmistakable worlds” of Wes Anderson.

WWD: Mini menswear crush!  A first look at Brooks Brothers’ costumes for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

The Financial Times: Monocle’s editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé on how (not) to apply for an internship.  Best line: “My favourite letters are the ones that say there’s a willingness “to fetch coffee, work late and even empty the bins.”  Fantastic! The global economy is now safe thanks to your commitment to gingerly rolling up your sleeves and doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.”

Reading List || The Financial Times: Power With Grace ~ Christine Lagarde

13/12/2011 § Leave a comment

Christine Lagarde.  Image via the FT.

When Christine Lagarde took the reins at the IMF from embattled and embarrassed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I will admit that aside from the remarkable milestones she represents — the first female managing director of the IMF, first female finance minister of a G7 country, first female head of international law firm Baker & McKenzie — there is something about her style that resonates deeply with me.  Here I use the term “style” loosely, as I do not specifically mean her manner of dress or hairstyle.  While I do love both, it has more to do with what Gillian Tett calls her “power with grace” in Tett’s recent article on Lagarde for the Women of 2011: Special Edition of the Financial Times:

But Lagarde is also being watched – as a potent female watershed. Never before has a woman held such a powerful position in global finance; the world of money has hitherto been dominated by men, not just inside banks but in bureaucracies too. Lagarde herself has often lamented this pattern, joking, for example, that the financial crisis might have been different if there had been “Lehman Sisters” and pointing out that the euro’s “fragile” foundations were created by its “founding fathers”, not mothers, since “regrettably, there was no woman at the table at the time.” Or, as she recently told me on the telephone: “I wish that there were more women in finance – I think it would be much healthier. We don’t know if it would have been different with more women [in 2008] but my intuition tells me it possibly might have been.”

Read the article here.


And from Forbes, Lagarde talks about being a lawyer, gender, diversity and the role of the IMF in the global economic crisis.  Especially interesting to hear the reasons she prefers to use the title “Chairman.”

Also on the list:

The Smithsonian: Unflinching Portraits of Pearl Harbor Survivors

Business of Fashion: Digital Scorecard | Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

LIFE Magazine, 17 Jan 1969:  While Burton romances Rex, Liz weighs her power and her future

The diamond is 33.9 carats and when I first saw it I said, “It can’t be real.”  And Mrs. Burton belted back happily, “You bet your sweet ass it’s real.  It’s the Krupp Diamond.”

The Shirt Off His Back {May 2011 How To Spend It, Financial Times}

18/05/2011 § Leave a comment

I feel this editorial has been extracted from the depths of my brain somehow.  I mean, we’ve got a sultry brunette, in gorgeous shirting, sporting exquisite accessories.  It looks as if she’s just rolled from bed and pieced together something almost suitable from the items her gentleman has left strewn about.  The insouciance of it all has me thinking of Sabina from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, not least of all because of the bowler hat.

Sidenote: I’ll be needing each and every pair of these shoes to get in my closet. Right. Now.  J’adore.

Styled by Damian Foxe, model Adina Forizs.
Via: How To Spend It, FT

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