By Christie Foppiono
The answer to that rather loaded question depends, of course, on who you ask. I decided to look at the “answers” of three successful women who have been in the spotlight recently.
Sheryl Sandburg is the high-powered COO of Facebook and mother of two. As you probably already know, she has written the book Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead, which encourages women to embrace and pursue our ambitions. Focus on and discuss what we can do, not what we cannot. According to her Forbes online profile, Sandburg says "I don't believe in 'having it all.’ But I do believe in women and men having both a successful career and family. The more women we get into positions of power, the more likely we'll get that." I will take that as a qualified yes.
Gabrielle Reece, (former) professional beach volleyball player, model and mom, has written a book which begs to differ. The author of My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper says you have to choose your focus. What is your priority right now – work or home? And in a move which was sure to ignite debate, Reece also suggests, being feminine means being submissive, at least at home. No, you cannot have it all, at least not all at once.
What about Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer? She does not have a book (not yet anyway) so all we can do is observe her behavior. Mayer might say you can have it all. The formula? Take a two-week maternity leave, eliminate telecommuting for your staff and build a private nursery next to your own office. Maybe?
No matter who you ask, one thing is sure - the fairer sex has come a long way, even if we still have more ground left to cover. When the Equal Pay Act was passed fifty years ago, women were not COOs, CEOs or writing books about their take on the role and place of women in the workforce. There was no conversation about work-life balance.
So, can you have it all? The only answer that really matters is yours - whether you are an equity partner, a stay-at-home mom or something in-between. Good luck finding it!