Every once in a while a high-profile woman will divulge the dirty underbelly of trying to be a woman in the work world. I remember the first time I saw it. It was when Brenda Barnes stepped down from a huge career at Pepsi to be with her kids. And she announced that she felt like a bad parent spending so much time away from them. Thereby implying that the other moms with huge jobs like hers were also ignoring their kids.

This week, there is another ground-breaking example of a woman stepping down from a very high place: Anne-Marie Slaughter (pictured above). She is a dean at Princeton and she was director of policy planning in the State Department. She wrote a breathtaking article in the Atlantic titled, Why Women Still Can’t Have it All, about stepping down from her State Department job to take care of her two teenaged boys. She says, in the article, that she is taking much better care of them when she is not away from them.

This shouldn’t be groundbreaking to say. But after twenty years of deafening feminist diatribe it is actually controversial to say that a mom is a better mom if she is home with her kids. So that in itself makes the Atlantic article worth reading.

Here’s another thing Slaughter does that I love. She takes down Sheryl Sandberg for telling other women to be like her and spend their days working insane hours for startups. I have written before about how ludicrous is is for Sandberg to think she’s a role model for women when there is a huge amount of research to say that women who have kids want part-time jobs. Sandberg assumes that women want high-powered jobs like hers and don’t have those jobs because there are no role models. Slaughter sets the record straight: women don’t want high powered jobs because they want to be home with their kids.

It’s ridiculous that it’s controversial to say that most women want to parent differently than most men. It’s ridiculous because there is scientific basis for this and a social basis for this and the women who argue against it are always women who do not have school-aged kids and a high powered job. So you know what? If you are going to argue in the comments section that women can have a high-powered job and school aged kids, please qualify yourself with the age of your kids and the number of hours you work per week.

Here’s how many hours I worked at my startup when I had young kids: 80. And my investors thought I was part-time—which I was, compared to how many hours other startup founders work. I’m just putting a number out there so you can have a benchmark for what high-pressure, high-powered jobs demand. Slaughter traveled almost nonstop for her job. And so do most people at that level.

So I loved Slaughter’s article. And I loved that women are coming forward to say that it is literally impossible to have a high-powered career while you have young kids, if you want to be involved in your kids’ lives. The best thing older women can do for younger women right now is to tell the truth. It’s hard to tell the truth because if you are trying to do the high-powered job and the kids, you will kill your career by admitting that it’s impossible.

But here’s the truth for women: You should not plan your life so that you work until you’re 30 and then have kids, and also have a huge career. Because you will be taking care of kids during the very time when all the men you worked with are working harder and longer hours than ever before. Men who have kids are in a great position to climb the ladder. They have wives at home. Women cannot go full speed ahead until the kids are grown up. Slaughter has great evidence for this. But you should be able just to look around and see that this truth. My favorite example: All the male Supreme Court Justices have families. Two of the three women do not. And the one who does, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, did not start her career until her kids were grown.

Slaughter lays out a great plan. It’s tucked into the article, among a lot of other calls to action. But she says, if you want to have a huge career, have kids when you are 25 so your kids will be grown when you are 45, because there will still be time to have a huge career.

Of all the ideas for having a big career and being a mom, this is the best one out there. Young women should use what we’ve learned so far and do things better than the generations that have come earlier. It’s too late for Generation Y since most of them have past the age when they would need to be finding a guy to marry. But there’s hope for the women of Generation Z.

Women from age 20 to 25 should focus on finding a guy to marry, and then build your career slowly, while you have kids. Which is what other generations did—they just started having kids five or ten years later.

This also means women will need to start dating men who are older than they are. This also seems like a good idea. Men, of course, love younger women. But more than that, women who are in their twenties are in their prime in terms of self-confidence. They are physically very desirable, and they are doing better at work than men. Men, on the other hand, are at their nadir of self-confidence in their twenties. They are not making money, which is something that is very valuable on the dating scene. And they are not doing as well as women at work. Men look way better in their 30s when the women have left the workplace and the men have a more solid grip on their earning power.

So men and women dating in their 20s is a lot like girls and boys slow dancing when their are 12. The girls are so much farther along developmentally that it’s absurd.

So look. Here’s my first post directed solely at Generation Z women: Spend the years from age 20-25 focused on getting married. There is no evidence that doing well in school during that period of your life will get you worthwhile benefits. There is no evidence that waiting longer than 25 makes a better marriage. And there is not evidence that women who do a great job early in their career can bank on that later in their career. There is evidence, though, that women who focus on marriage have better marriages. There is evidence that women who have kids earlier have healthier kids, and there is evidence, now, that women who have grown children by age 45 do better at getting to the top in the workforce than all other women with kids.

 

 

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  1. Lori
    Lori says:

    although this is a reasonable way to play it if you want to have it all (but not all at once), i started my first business at 22 and built it up, then had my kids in my 30s after the business was established and i could cut back from 80-100 hours a week to 40 (20 at night while my first child was asleep).

    one thing is true: young women need to not mess around and get ONE of those two things accomplished in their 20s. you can’t spend your 20s lollygagging, then try to crush career and family into your 30s and 40s.

  2. jaye
    jaye says:

    As a 32-year-old building a career who hasn’t “achieved” marriage (because it’s an achievement, not a relationship?), this is pretty much the most un-empowering thing I’ve read in a while!

  3. michele
    michele says:

    Completely agree.

    I had kids at 25. I worked from home part time. Then I went back to school. Then I worked full time. At the time I got my bachelors, I had 3 kids under the age of 5 and a part time job. I didn’t sleep much.

    Now I work full time but I’m a part-time mom (divorced, joint custody). This is a good balance. I certanly could not work more than my @40 and still pride myself in being a good mom. Parenting is hard and takes time.

    I sent my kids to catholic school and they are really good kids. I’m not super-religious but I like the morals/ethics that the school teaches. I hope I don’t have the drug/teenage pregnancy issues that so many of my friends have. I’ll take any cut in pay/lifestyle to avoid that. I want my kids to be happy and successful (in that order).

    Good luck P. I could never home school. I hope it works out for you and you are able to maintain your sanity and your marriage. Farmer is a good guy.

    –Michele

  4. Emily
    Emily says:

    Or, you know, you could not have kids at all. Most women I know who are in their early 30s – myself included – don’t have children and plan to remain childless because well, we’re making a choice that will facilitate other life goals. We recognize fully that one cannot have it all and that unfortunately things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least, like adding more resource-draining individuals to a country that doesn’t have enough jobs even for it’s best and brightest. Frankly, the only thing that Slaughter’s article proved to me is that she’s out of touch with many liberal 20-30 something women that I know. We’re worried about money, worried about the planet, and worried about whether any potential daughter will even have a reproductive or political choice given certain national conversations. Unlike Slaughter, we’re not so enamored with ourselves as to think that what we do individually is anywhere nearly as important as what she or any other ambitious or high-powered woman with a graduate degree does for work. (How easily we renege on our 2-year commitment. What message does that send your teenage sons?) Nor do we necessarily respect the griping and whining of women who made a choice to have children. Flipping deal with it, sister suffragette! No – we’re probably the least likely to attend any of her lectures because we’re not bringing more children into the world until we take care of the ones we already have: maybe by adopting at 40 or maybe by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work until we kick the can, cleaning up messes and prettying things up. Also, we’re not selfish enough to leave our partners with the burden of parenting alone – though society (and other women, ironically!!!) will most certainly call us precisely that: selfish for not having children and joining in the bi*&^ing and moaning. I’m just not convinced that Slaughter really knows what many women need to hear right now and that she isn’t the one in need of a swift kick in the proverbial behind. I don’t disagree with some of her points (for example, that it’s more socially acceptable for men to shirk familial duty or childcare), but I’d like to offer another perspective as a woman of 31 with no children, and no plan to have any. My female (and many male!) co-workers get to leave at 2:30 to pick up their children from school. They get passes when family events conflict with evening or weekend work-related events. They don’t get the stink-eye when a child is sick for days and they have to attend to them. They are afforded flexible scheduling options. The company pays more for health insurance when there is a child involved than in the case of a single adult. The government gives you a tax break each year. What do I get, as a loyal employee without a child, in a marriage, who stays past five and works her tail off every day? The expectation that I will work harder so that others can have family time. While Slaughter was out complaining about society treats her as a mother, a whole lot of other women are getting railroaded for making other choices. Please, though, Ms. Slaughter. Continue to tell me what I ought to demand of society as a feminist and how it ought to view these issues, that affect all of us as women dedicated to our work. I will not be applauding at any of your future, self-indulgent lectures or book signings.

    • sunship
      sunship says:

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, Emily.

      Here’s something I wonder about. “Everyone knows” that the male sex drive needs to be regulated in order to have a functioning society (regulated by individuals, not by “society” or “government” or anything like that) . Firstly from a purely practical and utilitarian standpoint. And also, depending on one’s world view, one could argue that civilized men have moral obligation to view and treat women as equals physically, mentally, and spiritually, and this is not possible with a completely unrefined or animalistic sex drive. (I subscribe to a worldview demanding this sort of moral obligation.) This doesn’t mean that we completely set aside such thoughts and urges, just that we learn to express and act on them in appropriate and respectful ways.

      Many of the same mechanisms that drive men towards sex drive women towards motherhood, but we generally shy away from drawing any sort of moral equivalence between these two things. If, for modern women, having children is neither practical nor “needed” by the world around us(to plow the fields, fight barbarians, and so forth), why shouldn’t women “regulate” their drive towards motherhood to adapt to the conditions that actually exist? Would women really want to claim that they are “absolutely subject” to this drive, and that regulating it (by this I don’t mean dejection or disappointed compromise) is completely out of the question?

      I am stating the above as a purely formal argument: I “entertain” rather than “believe” this argument. I don’t have enough information to believe or disbelive it – being male, I simply don’t know to what extent these “conditions” are comparable. That is, I have an experience of the male sex drive but no experience of the female urge towards motherhood. (It seems to be that the male “biological” drive towards fatherhood is different from the latter. Similar to the way that male and female sex drives are different, even if we don’t know the exact nature of this difference.) I’d be curious to know what people on both sides of the gender divide have to say about this.

  5. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    I don’t agree with your take on Slaughter’s article or that the answer to it being “literally impossible to have a high-powered career while you have young kids, if you want to be involved in your kids’ lives” is to opt out of the career. To me, that is comparable to the women’s suffrage movement having declared that it was impossible to convince the men in power to give us the vote.
    I am a 40 yo surgeon with 2 boys (6 and 9yo.) I work ~40-50 hrs/ week, have a nanny who is willing to come whenever we need her and does a lot of our “home making” cleaning and even occasional cooking and I have a husband with a very forgiving job who is a fantastic parent and partner.
    I delayed child bearing until after residency when I routinely worked 100-120 hrs/ week. It was clear that in training, you could be a good surgeon or a good mother – not both. (This has since changed and now doctors in training are not allowed to work more than 80 hours/week.)
    Now, I schedule my work to maximize the time I have with my kids.
    So…I did what Slaughter said were all the “half truths”…I was comitted enough to my training to delay child-bearing, I married the right person, I sequenced my life correctly.
    I still feel torn between my two loves but since I truly love both of them, I cannot “opt out.” Nor do I think that is the answer.
    I know I am not the best example as I am not trying to work the heavy hours and have young kids but I am in a very male dominated field where it is considered “weak” to take time off, for almost any reason.
    The answer is to change what society values. This is also what Slaughter recommends in the article. Slaughter points out that if someone is not at work because she is training for a marathon or due to her religious convictions then this is considered more acceptable than it being her carpool day.
    Those of us in high end jobs have to talk about what we are doing with our kids and make it valuable. We are the role models for those women who are in the workforce but don’t have the high-powered jobs as well as for the coming generations.
    Also, if you marry an older man be prepared to take care of him at the end of life, I’m not sure it is something to seek out or encourage other women to do.
    http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/a-special-burden-for-women/
    And if you’re going to try to change society then the paycheck fairness act could help and Govenors like Scott Walker are not helping by repealing the equal pay rights. It needs to be illegal to not pay women fairly and there needs to be a significant penalty. It will then become like sexual harassment, people will be very careful of even the impression of improriety, So when I tell the Chief of the Medical Staff that I will never attend a medical staff meeting as they are always on Monday and that is my day off and therefore a day with the kids…he would never dream of telling me (again) that all the male doctors have kids too.

  6. Clara
    Clara says:

    I chose not to have children in part because I figured if I was going to have them, I wanted to play a significant part in raising them, which was going to be pretty darn hard with the type of career I had. At the time, I didn’t voice this much, since it was perceived as a criticism of mothers who had made the choice to have children while working a demanding job.

    This wasn’t at all what I thought. What I value is personal choice, not that everyone march to the same drummer. Because mothering was not something that I felt particularly called to, my decision wasn’t a terrible struggle or a disappointment. I recognize, though, that for some women the choice is much more difficult.

    I believed strongly (and still do) that parenting is an equal-opportunity commitment and that men should be open to and able to take on the same responsibilities and accommodations that women do. But while that’s nice in theory, I had little confidence that it would play out that way in actuality.

    I don’t regret my decision, but it pains me that the issues we’re discussing today are so similar to the ones we were discussing 30 years ago, still without much clarity about their resolution.

  7. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I had my kids at 30 and 33. Now, at 55, I’m back at work at the career level of a 40 year old man who did really, really well:). But I was home with my kids, at least part-time, for 10 years. The only problem was that I wasn’t mature enough to manage my marriage well. That’s the piece that fails most often in this plan, I think.

    Which leads us to the logical conclusion that society ought to remove all shame from divorce.

  8. Random Fan
    Random Fan says:

    I just wanted to say that about three paragraphs in to this article this weekend, my first thought was of you, Penelope, and many of the same or similar points you have made over time. I like your reaction to her piece too.

    Thank you for the points you have made over the years that have helped me think critically about what I really wanted from both family life and career and make them both a reality.

  9. Marie
    Marie says:

    “”Women who are in their twenties are in their prime in terms of self-confidence”

    How do you know?

    The only age decade you have completed is the 20’s and before.

  10. downfromtheledge
    downfromtheledge says:

    I think the flaw in all of this is that one can just plan it all out and have it be so. But even if a woman desperately focuses on snaring a mate by the required age, are we forgetting that 50% of marriages end in divorce? That a good portion of those women will end up single moms and primary breadwinners wishing to f*ck they HAD focused more on career skills? I just don’t think there’s some sort of recipe a person can follow to ensure a happy life.

  11. redrock
    redrock says:

    working 100-120 hours per week is hard independent of children. A week has 168 hours, subtract 120 that leaves 48 hours, and if you spend all of the non-work hours sleeping you get the amount of sleep (7 hours) the average human being needs to function at peak performance. Only a small percentage of the population needs less. Such a work week is nearly unsustainable physically (not to talk about mentally since depression is much more prevalent in the perpetually sleep deprived) independent of having kids. There are a few top jobs which require constant travel and this workload for more than a few years, medical residency does not last forever, most political assignments last only for a limited amount of time, high powered lawyers reduce workloads once they make partner – neither Sheryl Sandberg nor women in comparable positions of power are the norm. But I also think that we have to move more to a work place where quality is more important than quantity- that should also reduce the incidence of stress related illnesses in men and women.

  12. redrock
    redrock says:

    P.S. One of the main reasons to reduce the work week for medical residents to a 80 hour work week is not because anybody thinks about the well being of the residents, but because the number of mistakes goes through the roof if the work week is extended far beyond this timeframe.

  13. LisaS
    LisaS says:

    You just always have to work, at least hal-time if you want to have a high power career. Staying at home full time in your 30’s and then going back to work will not allow you to be the CEO of a large company. Once you do go back you will have tro start at the bottom again and compete against younger people. But if you always work in some capacity your resume stay relevant.

  14. Helen W
    Helen W says:

    Well, this is the way I did it, and it certainly wasn’t by design:

    graduated from highschool with full intentions to go to university, had a serious boyfriend who was three years older than me. We were talking marriage three months after meeting ( I was 18!).

    found a summer job after graduating high school that became a full time job. I ditched going to school because I loved it there and I was just going for a BA and had no idea what kind of future career I wanted anyway. I also noted how my company paid for your education if you took related insurance industry courses.

    got engaged at 19, married at 20 (husband was 23), rose rapidly in my career over a series of jobs and different employers. Tried getting pregnant at 22, miscarried.

    husband lost his job shortly after, so no more trying for babies until things settled with him. I was 26 when we felt secure enough and we had a son. I was then a manager of a department of 17 people, which was a job I hated, though I don’t believe I would have had it if that first pregnancy worked out, but it served its purpose in that it bumped up my salary by a large degree. I decided that when I came back from mat leave later on with my son, I wanted to do sales which I enjoyed far more than administration. My company was co-operative, but I was never taken seriously again, wasn’t promoted, and basically held the same job for 15 years, though the accounts I worked on did increase in complexity and size. My income leveled out at about age 35, though it was a pretty good one. I couldn’t find anything better at another company. I quickly realized that this was going to be it for me career wise unless I made a drastic move. From that time, my motivation dried up and I died a little more every day.

    my son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. When I went back to work after my six month mat leave, my husband who made far less than me, and hated HIS job, decided to stay home with our son (though he did continue to work part-time, on my off hours, we just couldn’t afford to live just totally on my salary). He stayed home with him until he started kindergarten and he got a pretty decent full time union job with not a bad salary and very good benefits that he still has. I was guilty and felt like I had missed out on my son’s early years, even though they were difficult and my husband was tearing out his hair most days. I am not even all that maternal.

    we decide we will not have more children because we are worried about having another child with autism.

    thankfully, after much prayer and intervention, my son grows up to be like any “normal” 15 year old. His autistic tendencies have become minor to the point that he needs no supports to live his life as any other teenager, with an active social life, and doing fairly well at school. Can you believe it! Honestly, its the last thing we expected. Some minor regrets about not having another child, but overall we enjoy our family of three.

    I can’t take the insurance industry any more by the time I am 42. At this point, my husband has worked at a stable job for over 10 years, my son is 15 and flourishing, we inherit money from my mother in law that significantly reduces our debt load, and I start my business part time. I quit the insurance job 8 months later to focus on the business.

    Almost a year into the business (from when I started on it full time), it is slowly growing, though I still am paying off debt for it, so not making any money. But, I can afford it now. Since it is home based, I am finally around when my son gets home from school, which I actually am thrilled about. He is now 16, which is pretty dangerous territory. I am so glad I am around to watch what is going on, and can still pour all kinds of hours into the business because I can work anytime and not worry about a kid putting a pencil in a socket.

    I guess what I can say about how my child rearing and career years worked out is that I really did not plan any of it. I look back and think that I could not have done any better had I done so. I just worked with things as they happened really and I was always guided by my gut at the time. Did I intend to marry at 20? No F*&?ing way! I was hoping for thirty actually but I fell deeply in love with a good man at 18. This was a large part of the equation. Very few are this lucky, and though I think Pen is right about her timelines, it is impossible to plan your life this way. Is there anyone really out there who believes that life is all that controllable?

    • channa
      channa says:

      I love this story! I fell in love early as well (met my husband at 21, though 30 was more what I had pictured) and it really helps add a ton of flexibility, no matter when you have kids.

      But I think you should give yourself more credit – work stress, financial stress and a special-needs child could have easily led to divorce. Falling in love can “just happen” but staying married through it all for 20+ years takes commitment, empathy, selflessness, big-picture thinking.

    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      Helen, I am happy to hear about your son.

      What your post demonstrates, and something that very few women ever consider, is that our biology and psychology change in predictable patterns as we age. Many young scrappy women believe they will be like Bernie Ecclestone into their 80s; they give no credence to the fact that humans are animals and reproduction is the controlling impulse behind our actions and that few people are excused from the rules. As such, if we consider evolution we may accurately posit that we will age in a way that maximizes our genetic continuation. First, we begin with our own children, then we continue with changes that would help us raise grandchildren. It is no coincidence that a mass of well-paid women aged 35-45 decide works sucks; it is not a sudden realization but rather a biological force that is visited upon them. The change in mindset is something that happens naturally so the decisions you make and the feelings that you harbor seem to be your own rather than the evolutionary forces they truly are. You are no longer a young scrapper, because nature has determined that the best chance for genetic maximization details that your mindset and behaviors during middle age are best expressed helping exploit the fecundity of your daughter and the potency of your son. It is all very simple. Too bad lesbian, mannish feminists want to deny, deny the truth that exists for the vast majority of people.

      It is also funny that you describe yourself as not very maternal, when the exact emotions and sentiments you are now feeling are demonstrably maternal.

  15. MJ
    MJ says:

    Or don’t have any kids if you don’t want to.

    Or redefine your idea of a “big career.” Why is this a big business career instead of something meaningful?

    • CtReporter
      CtReporter says:

      I agree. I meet a lot of high-powered individuals as a court reporter. We get to hear their life story and educational and employment backgrounds, I can tell you high-powered career does not equate to successful or happy.

      Equating money with success is the biggest mistake people make, because they lose the money all the time. It’s kind of disturbing how many wealthy people become broke for reasons out of their control. It’s like a big secret among the rich.

      I think a lot of Pen’s readers are high-powered career people, so it helps to use that phrasing. It conjures just the right amount of interest and sets up the mindset she’s reaching out to, but that’s just me assuming. I would never venture to guess Pen’s thought process. I just love reading her stuff.

  16. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    Slaughter did not mention if she considered hiring a full time wife. Yes, the services of a homemaker / parent are very valuable and that is why there are professional nannies and housekeepers who specialize in them. The women I know who are in high-level positions (not much power, by the way) all had live-in babysitters when their kids were young. You could argue that it is not good for children to not spend time with their real parents, however, some people are not very good parents and should hire experts. Some women and men are better at office politics than child rearing. They seem to be very distinct skills.

    The real issue is that most middle class families have to choose between an extra income and/or a full time stay at home caretaker, usually, the mom, unlike high level employees of the State Department.

    Part time jobs are good for women with children. That way mothers can move back into the full-time workforce later in life without seeming to have hopelessly out-of-date skills. It is much harder to do that if you haven’t had a job requiring a W2 form in years.

  17. Susan
    Susan says:

    To those arguing – I think P’s point is that women who want -big careers- should have kids at 25, etc. She’s not necessarily addressing women who want careers or who just want to work and contribute (part-time, etc). I think there are plenty of women who want to work young, travel, have lots of money and freedom and then have kids in their 30’s and ramp down their careers. Not everyone wants to have it all, but for those who do – you have an uphill battle and can’t pretend these divides don’t exist.

    I also think she’s saying to treat your future personal life/finding a spouse life like a job. If you want kids, then start looking for a partner and don’t leave it entirely up to chance if you have big plans for your professional future. You wouldn’t just float around in your career path. And if you do, you don’t get very far.

  18. Erin McJ
    Erin McJ says:

    There are a lot of problems with this advice.

    One: it presumes that the risk of divorce is negligible. Regardless of whether the rate is actually that oft-quoted 50%, it’s a frequent enough outcome that every married person (men and women alike) needs to have a way of acquiring food and shelter that is not dependent on a marriage. This is even more important for people with children.

    Two: there are some risks to the family associated with not having two working adults in the house. One is health insurance. I’m a radical conservative on this — I think it is foolish for any parent not to have a profession that can be parlayed into a corporate job with benefits should the need arise. I won’t go so far as to say both parents must have this kind of job at all times, but if you don’t have access to that job market — whether because you have been unemployed for five years or because you have spent those five years hanging out a shingle in a field where no one hires employees — you are at risk of financial catastrophe should someone in your family get very sick. The private market won’t sell you the kind of insurance that will actually pay claims for the people who need it the most: you can only get that as part of a group plan where you are not evaluated as an individual and are thus not at high risk of rescission, should you become expensive.

    Three: There is something to be said for teaching your children about the working world by example. When I was growing up, my parents gave me the strong expectation that I would need to provide for myself eventually. Seeing my mother and father both working was part of how this expectation was communicated. Granted, a *high powered* career was not necessary for this end, but the article seems to pit “high powered career” against “unemployment.” Perhaps this false dichotomy is at the root of things.

    Four: It stretches belief a bit to claim that the people who are most suited for life at the top, temperamentally, will be satisfied aiming for marriage and children when they are freshly educated and full of the vigor of youth. As such it doesn’t make much sense to tell twentysomethings, “If you are excited about your career, go do something else for twenty years,” because the ones whose primary drive is to excel will not find that satisfying, and the ones who do find it satisfying would do it anyway for its own sake.

    I appreciate the value of having internal locus of control, and of revisiting your own life to figure out where things were hard and what could have made them better. Without making any claims about how well the current system works for working mothers — and without casting aspersions on people for whom this model does work; a close colleague is one — I think these two understandable values have led you to a wrong conclusion about what will be best for everybody. There is no “best for everybody” in this world; there is only muddling through.

  19. Audrey
    Audrey says:

    As a 24 year-old married gal just starting a career, Slaughter’s article (and your comments on it) are SPOT ON.

  20. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    I think having it all is a myth. I think the advice to have your babies earlier, and build you career later is sound. But the girls in their 20’s will have to marry older men (as P states), who will likely die much earlier than them. Women already outlive men. By marrying an older man, you’re just expanding that gap. There is sacrifice at one end or the other. And quite honestly, women need to do what works for them because sacrifice seems to be the common denominator.

  21. Ron
    Ron says:

    “there is a huge amount of research to say that women who have kids want part-time jobs” And what do other people want? Working long hours at some job away from your family is not fulfilling for many people.

    The favorite time in my life was when I worked part-time. I had a very simple lifestyle and had few possessions. I was never in a hurry, I was close to nature, could enjoy life and relationships and always had time for other people.

    I believe that most people would prefer to work part-time. Instead of dividing the household responsibilities so that one person works, another takes care of children, and the children have no responsibilities, why not share the responsibilities? Each household member (including children according to their abilities) can contribute what they are able to both in terms of finances and in terms of service to the family.

    That way, no one would get burnt out by feeling overburdened by either work or household work. Each person’s life would be balanced and the children would be able to benefit from both parents instead of wishing they had more time with the parent who is always away working.

    Also, the children would have the example of balanced parents leading balanced lives instead of harried or burnt-out parents. And the children would naturally learn that they are valuable and they have something to contribute and would not be so self-centered, since they would also be contributing instead of just taking.

  22. Kimberly Rotter
    Kimberly Rotter says:

    Great post. I agree, mostly. But I had my first child at 41 and it worked out great. I’m at the point now where I am highly employable and experienced, and can successfully run a business. I’m in a good position to work part time from home, and be a very hands-on parent at the same time. I’m done with the 80 hour weeks and I’m glad I got it out of my system during my 20s and 30s.

    Your theory does hold true when you consider the risks that go up with having children later in life. But work-wise, it’s just as well to have kids younger or older.

  23. Heather McCurdy
    Heather McCurdy says:

    Here’s an interesting article about Sheryl Stanberg changing her tune on CNN about going home at 5:30 pm every night. Even Pete Cashmore agrees with her… http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/16/tech/web/cashmore-facebook-sandberg/index.html

    What the article doesn’t tell us if its just a PR fluff article and when she’s at home, she’s really on the phone, on email still working or if she is actually spending ‘be here now’ time with her family. I’m also curious as to what the rest of her staff and peers think about her 5:30 exit as well.

  24. Nazia Ali-Prasad
    Nazia Ali-Prasad says:

    I literally almost vomited in my mouth. I respect a woman’s choice to get married in her early twenties and have babies by or around age 25, but this blogger totally put women into a BOX and if you’re not in that box, you’re basically not going to succeed – that was the jest of the blog article. It made me insanely irritated. She blatantly tells Generation Z to spend the years from 20-25 focused on getting married and furthermore states that “there is no evidence that doing well in school during that period of your life will get you worthwhile benefits.” WTF?!?!?!? Get married = success. Getting an education = not worth the trouble? Really? That’s what we want to teach young women these days? I want to slap this woman across the face! Yes, I am a feminist in every sense of the word. No that doesn’t mean I’m a lesbian or anti-men. It doesn’t mean I’m anti anything in fact. It means that I believe strongly that men and women are equally and should be treated as such. This article basically tells women that for them to be successful they A) must get married (because being a single mother = being unsucessful) B) should make sure they get married in their early twenties C) shouldn’t focus on getting an education first because it doesn’t help D) then focus on your career.

    I mean really?!??!! I have NO problem with someone getting married early, having children early, getting their education last (or not getting one at all) and then establishing a career. I have NO problem with that let me reiterate that again. What I have a problem with is this WOMAN telling other women that if they don’t do those things, in that order they won’t be successful? What a load of crap. There may be evidence that “women who have kids earlier have healthier kids” and evidence that “women who have grown children by age 45 do better at getting to the top of the workforce” but there is also of the contrary as it pertains to sucessfull women. Perhaps they weren’t CEO’s of major corporations, but how many women in our lives are?

    My grandmother has always been my inspiration. Growing up in a third world country, she got her college education, was a social activist, and started her teaching career before getting married and having children. Once she did get married and had 4 children, my grandfather and she travelled the world together, literally, she still was an amazing mother, worked hard, and was successful. She may not have become the President of Fiji, but she was an inspiration, God rest her soul. And Penelope Trunk can shove that in her box.

  25. Suzanne Kaplan
    Suzanne Kaplan says:

    I loved Slaughter’s article. But, there is something that isn’t entering into these conversation about motherhood, and that’s the given that most people want kids. Do they? I often wonder how many people are consciously deciding for themselves to have kids or just following a script. I want to hear more from women who decided to forgo kids because they knew they couldn’t do it all and choose the career route.

    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      Steve Sailer is a BOSS. Dead on so many issues that completely vex the intelligentsia. Life is complicated when you don’t understand HBD.

  26. Mane man
    Mane man says:

    This writing is so good & crazy, I just want to copy it & make it into a creative commons movie, taking away all your royalties, your sponsors, your house, your SUV. There’s a saying in the new economy of total unemployment & unlimited bandwidth. If you can’t make money, no-one can make money.

  27. Chloe
    Chloe says:

    Wait just a minute here. 25-year-olds are CHILDREN. And I say this as a 24-year-old. Making babies might make sense in some backwater town with nothing else to do, but in a big city where the people of that age bracket are just about two years into their first job out of university at some accounting/finance/consulting firm, the idea of getting knocked up is horrifying. It’s also a huge assumption that marriage is even a slightly-more-than-remote prospect for people this age, since so few of us are even in relationships.

  28. Meg
    Meg says:

    One of my greatest goals for my daughter is that she has children in her 20’s. I save more than I spend so that she will have the means to leave school debt free and so that she will not be burdened with caring for my husband and me, at least financially!

  29. half canadian
    half canadian says:

    Chloe,

    How many people have grandparents who were parents by the time they were 24?
    I’d argue that come 25, being settled is a mature thing to do.

  30. MaureenSharib
    MaureenSharib says:

    Barbara Walters said, many, many years ago:

    A woman can have three things – a career, a husband or kids.
    She can have two of those things successfully.
    She cannot have three.

    This has been in the framework for a long time.
    It’s really no surprise to anyone who has attempted all three.

  31. AGB
    AGB says:

    Penelope, I am 24 and knew you’d have something to say on this article that would fill me with dread. I just started a LTR w/ someone who makes no money, so, womp womp. I want to go back to school (I know you think that’s a terrible idea, I’m not in your field) – for 5 years – so I’ll be 30 before I have a steady income again. I don’t think my partner will be well-off within those 5 years either. What about people who can’t afford babies when they’re 25? (that’s most of us, see Girls). And ‘Date someone older’ is not the answer.

    In fact, of the hundreds of women I know in my (ivy league) graduating class, one or two have gotten married. Most of the others aren’t dating, much less dating their life partner.

    For your target demographic, what you’re saying is unrealistic. Most of us just haven’t laid the pieces in place that neatly yet. We’re going to have to figure something else out.

  32. Kimberly Rotter
    Kimberly Rotter says:

    Now that I’ve read the entire Slaughter article, I find it a bit incredible that she considered moving back to the same city equal to “being with her kids.” She still worked more than full time and traveled frequently. I suppose her article is “breathtaking” in the context of female super execs and feminism in our society. But to us normal people, she seems totally out of touch with reality.

    Someone has to be home to raise the kids. It is not rocket science. And to say that you can make up for a job that involves a lot of travel by taking a family vacation totally misses the boat.

  33. Elena
    Elena says:

    To your advice ‘Get pregnant at 25’ we can add ‘Be born pretty, smart and in a rich family, Have perfect health, Meet Mr.Perfect at 23, and finally, read this article before 22’ ….
    Otherwise, sorry, your life is worthless, you have no chance to be happy.

    So the question is ‘Is the heading of the article just a SEO tool’ or, if not, who is it exactly for?!

  34. SA
    SA says:

    I took this basic career path. I skipped a grade, graduated from a top university at 21, where I met my husband-to-be when I was a senior. I went straight to law school and we had a long distance relationship for 3 years. The summer after law school, I took the bar exam and got married. I passed the bar the first time and started working right after our honeymoon. I worked a little over a year before deciding to get pregnant, and went on maternity leave right after I had worked about two years. After an extended maternity leave, I’ve never gone back to work.

    I’ve really missed lots of aspects of my job, which I loved, but there’s no way for me to be a fully supportive and present mom for my son while having enough time to do even small chunks of work in a satisfactory way. I don’t know how the chips will fall with having more kids or going back to work part time one day, and I hope it will all work out, because I feel like I’ve taken a big career risk by dropping out of the game. On the other hand, it feels totally worth it – I had a relatively easy pregnancy, my son is joyous and healthy, and I am young enough that I can run around all day after him.

  35. Mark
    Mark says:

    Penelope Trunk says: Here’s my first post directed solely at Generation Z women: Spend the years from age 20-25 focused on getting married. There is no evidence that doing well in school during that period of your life will get you worthwhile benefits. There is no evidence that waiting longer than 25 makes a better marriage.

    The first link in that passage is to a posting of yours that doesn’t provide proof for the statement that “There is no evidence that doing well in school during that period of your life will get you worthwhile benefit”. It simply links to a post you wrote about college planning. Citing yourself as an authority is hardly convincing and your piece does not support the contention you made. The second link in that passage goes to an article that explicitly states that “Women who get married before the age of 25 make up about 64 percent of all divorces in the U.S. On the other hand, women who get married in their late twenties make up only 16 percent of the divorces. This means that any woman who gets married before she turns 25 is about four times more likely to get a divorce”. So that hardly supports your argument that there is no evidence that waiting longer than 25 makes for a better marriage.

    Here’s my first post directed solely at Generation Z women: don’t listen to Penelope Trunk for advice or for tips on how to support your points with compelling research.

  36. Kendra
    Kendra says:

    I heard Slaughter on NPR last week and was truly impressed with her courage.

    I am the breadwinner in a loving marriage. My husband stays at home with our kids (toddler and infant). I had my first at 32, second at 34. I never really cared about having a “huge job” but somehow landed in a very flexible position that allows us to live relatively comfortably on just my income. I even get to work from home two days a week and pretty much make my own schedule the other days. Hip hip hooray, right?

    Wrong.

    I’m so longing to be the one at home rolling around on the floor with the kiddos, no iPhone, no computer, nothing. I’m not a career woman and it feels so unnatural most days to be the one leaving in the morning. I don’t even work in a “huge job” by any stretch of the imagination. But I do provide and without my income we’d be in big trouble.

    So here I am in this post-post-feminist quandary, wondering why I’m not just grateful to have a job at all, and to have a husband who is so utterly capable at home.

    This leads me to believe that I am indeed biologically wired to be closer to my kids at their tender ages. I don’t know if starting at 25 would make any difference. I can only speak for myself but it wouldn’t have mattered when I started. I still would wish I was home, I’m sure of it.

  37. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

    Brilliant post and comments.

    Penelope, what you are doing is inspiring and so much better than working in a typical corporation. You get to be creative, work when you can and be with the kids when you want to or need to.

    You are living an unconventional lifestyle created to suit you own needs.

    You are the kind of role model women need, not career crazy people like the FB woman. As far as I’m concerned her lifestyle sounds more like a prison sentence. Yours is more desirable and realistic with all its complications.

    I think it’s a good idea for many women to have kids early too. I spent the first 10 yrs of my adult life trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life and plucking up courage to follow my dream. I know many young people have the same problem so it would but the perfect time to have kids and dabble with study, work or travel while you decide.

    I am inspired by women who write their first book when they are older, often over 50, because I want to write a book one day. But now my kids are older there is more time but also more demand to earn money (they are 7, 10 and 14) so the book is still pending (though maybe not for much longer with your 15 min time slot suggestion:)

    I hope they will make sure some of these big issues are covered in your reality TV show and that they air it in Australia!

    You are my feminist heroine for the new millenium because you’re not just writing theory – you are living it, experimenting and inspiring all of us because of that.

  38. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Ladies let me spell it out for you: the career that you want, the job that you think means so much – it doesn’t mean squat. Big deal if you are an HR exec or even a college professor. For those of you pissing and moaning about career vs family, how can you honestly question which is more valuable? Something is insanely wrong with our nation and our biology when so many women believe that children are an impediment to their careers; this for the reason that their careers are worthless in the grand scheme of things.

    I have met so many career women who actually believe that their jobs mean something when in fact their jobs, even those requiring outstanding credentials are often just make work or positions that are workaday or responses to government regulations. (Think: I have to work so hard to file this brief and that means missing dinner; or this audit must be done so I will miss my son’s soccer practice.) Very few people, men and women alike, have jobs that matter in the end (a jot that matters is probably relegated to some type of radically innovative engineering or solving some heinous crime or if you have a certain medical specialty). When attending my step grandfather’s wake I was saddened that so many of the tributes revolved around his commercial activities. How sad. Who cares if you made $10 million in real estate. How did you benefit and touch those around you? By selling them houses some might respond (which is a crap answer). Sadly, so many women today are like my step grandfather and think that the commercial is what matters. Probably when they arrive nearer to death’s door, they will realize that the modern career is nothing more than a gilded path to sad eulogy. You can never earn back the lost years; so be brave and love in others.

    • Jane Doe, MD
      Jane Doe, MD says:

      Assuming your name is indicative of your gender, I don’t see how a man has the right to tell women what is or is not best for their lives. Having children and raising a family is NOT the only meaningful thing you can do with your life. I am a practicing OB/GYN and I save lives and deliver babies every day. I help women get through tough pregnancies and support them as they try to decide how to lead their loves after their child is born. The work that I do every single day is incredibly meaningful and offers far more to the world than having two kids at home. I do not have children yet, but when I do, I would hope that they would encourage men to become more active in the family and change their expectations of who must put down their career to raise them.

      So, Jeff, let me ask you this: why are you addressing women at all? Where do men fall in this idyllistic vision of yours where high-powered jobs are not meaningful or necessary? Where would our economy and technology be if not for high-powered jobs? And if it is indeed necessary to have high-power jobs for the sake of our continued socioeconomic develoment, why on earth should we tell women to step down and let the men rule our lives, on so many levels?

      This article and the points it raises are not about granting women the permission to leave their jobs and raise their kids, because women are still doing that today. What this article is about is the gender war, and if we follow Trunk’s advice, all the battles we have won will ultimately just end in defeat.

      • Jeff
        Jeff says:

        “Assuming your name is indicative of your gender, I don’t see how a man has the right to tell women what is or is not best for their lives.”

        Do you accord the same sentiment to women? That does not appear to be the case since you write that men should be encouraged to more fully participate in family life. So in your very first paragraph you illustrate the concept of female solophism and lay bare the an important difference between the sexes. You berate a man for informing women that most jobs are in fact worthless and not special and that loving bonds with those around you are far more potent measures of life than raises and promotions, then you instantly tell men that they should participate more in family life. What this clearly shows is that you think the rules should accord to your personal feelings. You feel that the sexes are at war and how dare the male enemy make any remarks about the female sex or impart life lessons to women, secondly you prove what women so often lack at their very core, deep within them: ethics of the highest order. It is laughable to hear people suggest that men and women do not contribute equally within a household, because what is equal? Think about the very words you just wrote (men cannot comment on women but the converse may remain), then think about ethics. Who in the household is more likely to teach son and daughter that such opinions are bad and harmful to society? And who is more likely to teach daughter to watch for her own tendencies in this regard? Surely it is more likely to be the man for this is an issue of honor and men are more receptive to honor than are women (easily predicted by our evolutionary past). Therefore, because so many women will fail to teach morality and ethics at the sharp end, no determination about equality within the household can be made for there is no simply way to divide the tasks.

        “Having children and raising a family is NOT the only meaningful thing you can do with your life. I am a practicing OB/GYN and I save lives and deliver babies every day. I help women get through tough pregnancies and support them as they try to decide how to lead their loves after their child is born.”

        If you read my post, I did leave an out that some women do have important jobs. Maybe you are one of those women, maybe you are not. I cannot say.

        “The work that I do every single day is incredibly meaningful and offers far more to the world than having two kids at home.”

        If you did not take your job, would someone else have done so? The answer is, of course, yes because you didn’t innovate or create the industry. Do not think too highly of yourself and your work. The world is being overrun by the less intelligent; babies are healthier when borne to women in their 20s as compared to their late 30s. Assuming you to be intelligent, you cannot possible know if forgoing childbirth, and blessing the world with two to three intelligent children is more or less important than your present work, where you are easily replaced with the next physician, or medical school applicant, in line. At the end of the day, even Newton was replaceable and dare I say it but no one on this forum or in this world is the equal of Newton.

        “I do not have children yet, but when I do, I would hope that they would encourage men to become more active in the family and change their expectations of who must put down their career to raise them.”

        Go for it. Have daddy raise the kids; see what happens. How well does the female mind age with regards to a desire to storm forward in the world of commerce? Doesn’t seem to age that well to me, generally speaking. Let’s see what happens. Intelligent girl with chip on shoulder who believes in the sex war and does as she is told (because obviously she is not driven by serious ethics, otherwise lapses in logic like those above would not happen) becomes a successful physician. She works hard and shows everyone that she can deliver babies; see me roar (despite the fact that no one doubts women can be successful physicians). Through her twenties and into her early thirties she is strong and energetic; easily the equal of her perceived enemies: men. Then something happens for which she didn’t plan: hormones and aging and a robust bank balance. As you age, your mind will change in harmony with our evoluationary past. If you find yourself in your late 30s without kids, your body is likely to start screaming for reproduction as the window is fast closing. Around this same time, all manner of negative physical ailments from bad periods to sagging breasts and mannishness of the face start to visit women, only serving to remind them that their fecundity is fading. By the mid-40s, the brain will have undergone some changes as this is around the traditional age when women are caring for grandchildren. To care for grandchildren, to be a matriarc as was genetically advantageous, requires a different outlook on life than to be a young, energetic, chip on your shoulder, pup. Some women, will surely charge forth and not change, but that is a small fraction of the population. The evoluationary pressures on the brain are overwhelming, you are only along for the ride, nothing more than a passenger to your own physiology and pyschology. This is the age where women start to realize that their gift of childbirth, of grandchildren, of little hands and arms reaching to them is what matters. You may not be similar to most women and you may find yourself still full of spit and fire at age 40-45, but that is a big “if.” Even most men have aged by that time and slowed greatly. I used to work in grand prix racing. No man was more badass than Michael Schumacher in his 20 and early 30s. He has returned now in his early 40s and is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to when he was 25. So, if you think the average women is more likely to be tougher than the most badass Teuton to ever drive the most badass racing cars ever to roar across the planet, then maybe you don’t need to tell them how the passage of time will soon reveal the truth: your job is irrelevant in the grand scheme and family and love are what matter. But if you actually think that the average woman will continue to roar into her 40s you are not very observant at all.

        “So, Jeff, let me ask you this: why are you addressing women at all?”

        Feminism is making everyone more miserable, that is why. I hold no desire to see women suffer by believing that accounting is a need that they must fill. When was the last time any women’s magazine or website featured anything on how evolution will have dictated changes in psychology as we age? Probably never, because this is a “man’s” topic.

        “Where do men fall in this idyllistic vision of yours where high-powered jobs are not meaningful or necessary?”

        I never made any such assertion that technology is not important. But you will find that many men look back in old age with serious regret about how their time was spent.

        “Where would our economy and technology be if not for high-powered jobs?”

        Once again, I never said that excellence is not something to celebrate.

        “And if it is indeed necessary to have high-power jobs for the sake of our continued socioeconomic develoment, why on earth should we tell women to step down and let the men rule our lives, on so many levels? ”

        For a scientist you sure are confused. Men do so much in order to get women to like them. Moreso, women pretty much have everything they want socially and politically. It is very difficult to think of things that women have agitated for that have not become law. Unfettered immigration, check. Free health care, check. Welfare, check. Free schools, check. Credentialism, check. Slow speed limits, check. Hate crime laws, check. Gun laws, check.

        “This article and the points it raises are not about granting women the permission to leave their jobs and raise their kids, because women are still doing that today. What this article is about is the gender war, and if we follow Trunk’s advice, all the battles we have won will ultimately just end in defeat.”

        Any battles that you think women have won are just illusions that exist in your head for there is no permance. It took more than 600 years for the Rights of Englishment to develop; but in our nation it has taken fewer than 100 years to massive dismantle the notion that men should be free. Believing in permance, believing that you have won battles, is to be anti-science, for you are battling human nature and in the end, human nature will always win.

    • Kristen
      Kristen says:

      Jeff: with a few minor changes…
      Fellas, let me spell it out for you: the career that you want, the job that you
      think means so much – it doesn’t mean squat. Big deal if you are an HR exec or
      even a Gran Prix racer. For those of you pissing and moaning about career vs
      family, how can you honestly question which is more valuable? Something is
      insanely wrong with our nation and our biology when so many men believe that
      children are less important than their careers; this for the reason that their
      careers are worthless in the grand scheme of things.

      I have met so many career men who actually believe that their jobs mean
      something when in fact their jobs, even those requiring outstanding credentials
      are often just make work or positions that are workaday or responses to
      government regulations. (Think: I have to work so hard to file this brief and
      that means missing dinner; or this audit must be done so I will miss my son’s
      soccer practice.) Very few people, men and women alike, have jobs that matter
      in the end (a jot that matters is probably relegated to some type of radically
      innovative engineering or solving some heinous crime or if you have a certain
      medical specialty). When attending my step grandfather’s wake I was saddened
      that so many of the tributes revolved around his commercial activities. How
      sad. Who cares if you made $10 million in real estate. How did you benefit and
      touch those around you? By selling them houses some might respond (which is a
      crap answer). Sadly, so many men today are like my ste
      p grandfather and think that the commercial is what matters. Probably when
      they arrive nearer to death’s door, they will realize that the modern career is
      nothing more than a gilded path to sad eulogy. You can never earn back the lost
      years; so be brave and love others.

      Someday it may be that all of us (men and women) realize that people are the most important component to our lives and the only jobs that really matter serve our community rather than our ego or our pocketbook. Caregiving is a fantastic job, both in and out of the home, and whether I am a surgeon caring for my patients or a mother caring for my child….it should be equally valued by our society. That is what feminism should be striving for…our society to value what are considered feminine talents as much as masculine talents.

      • Jeff
        Jeff says:

        Kristen, yes it is true that individually, men too are replaceable in their jobs thus demonstrating that their jobs are not so important as most would believe. It is also true that men and women are biologically and psychologically different and both of those impact career choices and outcomes as well as life choices and outcomes. These differences are highly apparent in youth but, in some ways, even more staggering in middle age where it becomes apparent that a great many women just want to slow down.

        Where you will likely find confusion in life is probably in the belief that a gender or sex war exists. It doesn’t exist anywhere but in unsettled minds. You suggest, “That is what feminism should be striving for…our society to value what are considered feminine talents as much as masculine talents.” Of course, this has always been the case, but you just cannot see it because of your own solipsism. To think that men have not valued the childbearing talent of women above all else in the universe is to have missed human history. Men have built society, technology and the world’s greatest art and edifices, all in a attempt to attract female interest so that they may reproduce. Your failure to calculate this simple truth bears witness to your own present limitations for understanding the world. And that, is the cold, hard reality.

        • Kristen
          Kristen says:

          Jeff, your solipsism prevents you from seeing that women have many more talents than childbearing. It is the equivalent of men being valued only for their seed.
          When I said feminine talents, I meant our emotional intelligence, our patience, our ability to put aside our egos for the greater good, our listening, our risk aversion, our ability to build relationships, etc, etc, etc.
          I wouldn’t say a “sex war” exists just an undervaluing of really useful traits…which are feminine. The proper value of these traits would result in a “win” for men as much as women. It is sons that are being left in day care as much as daughters.

          • Jeff
            Jeff says:

            Kristen, no offense but your response is funny. There is nothing solipsistic about my post, but your response meets the criteria as you declare me to be something because you “meant or felt” something else and fail to consider the world as it is.

            “Jeff, your solipsism prevents you from seeing that women have many more talents than childbearing. It is the equivalent of men being valued only for their seed.”

            Well, add in money and status to the last bit of that sentence and you are dead on in what women seek. Women seek high status men with potent seed.

            “When I said feminine talents, I meant our emotional intelligence, our patience, our ability to put aside our egos for the greater good, our listening, our risk aversion, our ability to build relationships, etc, etc, etc.”

            Since when do men not value a comforting women who will rub his back and tell him that he is the best? Are you honestly suggesting that men have not historically valued emotional intelligence, patience, risk aversion in women (duh, right there as that is evolutionary desirable) and relationship building?

            “I wouldn’t say a “sex war” exists just an undervaluing of really useful traits…which are feminine. The proper value of these traits would result in a “win” for men as much as women. It is sons that are being left in day care as much as daughters.”

            You have posted nothing to show that men don’t value the very traits that you mention. You also continue down the ragged logic of angry chick path by discounting what I already mentioned. Men, above else, value the reproductive value of women. This ability and characteristic, dwarfs all else in the world. It is impossible for me to grasp what it must be like to live with a mind where such a basic life reality, a reality that has been proven trillions of times over, escapes oneself. When a man meets a woman to whom he is attracted, he will often do anything to have her. Some women are just angry that they cannot launch a 1000 ships.

  39. Jane Doe, MD
    Jane Doe, MD says:

    Whatever the argument is, whatever we are debating, telling women that higher education will confer no advantage and give them no benefits is akin to telling women to not even bother getting an education. Oh, and don’t bother trying to get a job or start a career either. Oh, and make sure you find a nice, older husband who can support you and be the breadwinner. And you might as well not vote either, since you won’t know who’s who and what’s what in politics since you’ll be too busy trying to get married and have kids and should just focus on that.

    Higher education is the key to a better life for SO many people, men and women alike. We should be encouraging everyone to attend school since, with today’s unemployment rates, not even a bachelor’s degree will open any doors for you. And trust me, as someone who spent many years in medical school and then in residency, it is not easy to go to school if you’re also responsible for taking care of a family. School is very time-intensive and requires flexible hours, and we should not encourage young women to just plan on going back to school when they have the time, post-babies. Furthermore, of the medical students I met who had families, the majority were men who were lucky enough to have a partner who agreed to take care of the kids while they were in school. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why more men than women were able to go back to school once they had started a family. But it’s time that we start expecting more of men and stop expecting women to be the primary caretakers just because “they were born that way.”

    The great thing about being in your 20s is having the freedom to experiment and try new things, to try out different career paths before you settle on one. Having kids is not just something that happens, lasts a few years, and then stops demanding your utmost time and attention. No, having kids is a never-ending job, and while it can be extremely fulfilling, we should not be telling young women to put their careers on hold and dabble around in parenting before committing to a career.

    Children require a lot of support, something that many people in their 20s simply can not provide. In this age of unemployment, when many people lose health insurance at the age of 26 and have debilitating student loan debt, I would not recommend adding a child or two into the mix. When they are in their 20s, very few people have the financial means to support a family, and if- as Penelope suggests- women just seek to be trophy wives and find an older man to support them and their future family, then we’re still stuck in the 1950s. Some people argue that women are biologically wired to take care of children, that they are better caregivers. But who are to say that they are not better caretakers simply because that’s what society has shaped them and forced them to be? Men can and are very devoted, caring parents, and there is no reason to continue to place this burden on women, using an argument that borders on eugenics about gender-based differences in natural ability.

    • chris
      chris says:

      To Dr. Jane Doe, OB/Gyn:

      You ask Jeff why he is advising women, since he is not a woman. Likewise, why are YOU advising women to have a career v children since you don’t have children? Jeff is not an expert, nor are you.

      In particular you cannot compare the meaningfulness of having/rearing children to your job as a doctor (since you are not doing both and have never done the former). You say in an earlier post that your career is more meaningful than having a couple of children at home. I challenge you on that. I am guessing that if/when you DO have a child, you will have moments of incredible clarity where you realize how much rearing children is the bottom line. There is nothing more important. You may have meant that you are reaching more people as you help women have children in your job . . . but that is comparing apples and oranges. Reaching more people v rearing a child–apples and oranges.

      Rearing a single child–making it your “practice,” not as in medicine, but as in your spiritual practice, like a Zen master–is the power of the one. It is the lighting of a single candle which dispels the darkness . . .

      Your two posts sound arrogant and angry and indignant and maybe even militant. You sound as if you don’t acknowledge, as even Freud did, that there are two EQUAL paths–love and work.

      And if a woman believes that setting herself up to have/rear children is her top priority, then so be it. That woman will plan for it, perhaps in the way that Penelope suggests. And that woman won’t be wrong.

      Be careful, doc, about making people wrong . . .

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        I am not sure what you are trying to say. That women who do not have children are somehow worth less? Or that they are only worthy if they do a job which contributes in a clearly visible way to society such as being a doctor? And if they don’t have children and a managerial job (for example) than they are a waste? That child bearing and rearing is the one and foremost purpose in life for women? Or are you saying something completely different?

  40. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    Jeff’s right. I’m going to give up my 400K job (which only requires me to work 3.5/days per week) and see if I can find a Grand Prixer who thinks I ‘m pretty enough to stick his dick in…which is apparently how men show they value something. Now I understand the world. Whew. Thanks, Jeff.

    By the way, did you here what the Supreme Court decided?

    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      “Jeff’s right. I’m going to give up my 400K job (which only requires me to work 3.5/days per week) and see if I can find a Grand Prixer who thinks I ‘m pretty enough to stick his dick in…which is apparently how men show they value something.”

      That’s awesome that you earn such a great income for so few hours of work. Good for you. That job is probably a keeper with or without grand prixer hubby.

      “Now I understand the world. Whew. Thanks, Jeff.”

      I know the world is confusing to most women who operate largely from an emotionally-dominated standpoint, but it’s good to see you make an attempt. Of course, you are still emotional and you overreach and use sarcasm and snark where none is required, but I suppose that is a coping mechanism for dealing with inconvenient truths. Of course, men highly value the women with whom they mate, especially when they have invested exhaustive resources into attracting and retaining their mate. This is why it is so important that marriage not be undervalued or institutionally weakened. Married men are the heart of the economic machine. Notice how dysfunctional are the cultures with polygamy; this is not a coincidence. If men have no real incentive to work, because mate attraction is unlikely, then diffidence takes hold. So in sum, your sarcastic remark is somewhat correct: men value the women in which they can stick their dick into and will work really hard to get a women and then work really hard to keep her.

      “By the way, did you here what the Supreme Court decided?”

      Sure did. Now imagine that we tax women for non-action if they don’t have babies. So if a woman with SAT scores above the 75th percentile doesn’t bear or adopt children by age 27, then we could tax the hell out of her. Of course, being a libertarian and humanist I would be opposed to such a law, but the door is now open for that type of law.

  41. AngelQT
    AngelQT says:

    Love it! I only wish my parents would have given me some of these tips over drilling into my head during adolescence that “boys and books don’t mix.” Maybe I wouldn’t be approaching 30 with so much professional success while still trying to figure out the whole love and emotional side of the coin…*shrug*

  42. sandraalvarez
    sandraalvarez says:

    I can relate to this post. I’ve been contemplating as well whether to pursue my career or settle down as a full time mom. It’s just hard because I a 6-year-old and 2-year-old boys. The eldest goes to school everyday and I don’t have a nanny to help me out with childcare.

  43. JB
    JB says:

    I have pretty strong feelings about this topic. I think the real issue lies in how society defines a high powered, successful career. I am 36 right now. I married at 23 (everyone said I was crazy and too young), and had kids at 27, 30 and 33. I am pregnant right now with baby 4 which will be my last. I started my own company when I was 23 and successfully grew it organically, with no crazy VC expectations sitting on my shoulders. I liked running my own company because I set up our office 1 mile from my house and had more control over my schedule with the kids. I sold the company about a year ago to a larger company and I now run a division of that company. I work about 50 hours a week (get to the office at 8:30, leave at 5:30, and make up the difference when the kids go to bed). My total comp plan this year will put me at $400,000 and this is based upon the results I can drive, not a guaranteed salary. I travel at the most 2 days a month.

    I think what matters that women have to think through ahead of time are —

    1. Make sure you pick a job or start a company that gives you the level of flexibility you need. Being 1 mile from my house and my kids school is huge. I waste no time commuting or running out for 30 minutes to go have lunch with the kids.

    2. My boss works in another city, so there is no one controlling my day to day schedule or passing judgment on it. All he cares about is that the results are there, which is how it should be. Don’t work in a controlling environment that won’t give you some level of flexibility over your schedule.

    3. Find a job that pays you based upon results. If you are smart, driven, and great at getting things done quickly, you can get better results spending less time than your counter-parts in the office. Find a job that doesn’t count hours, instead it focuses on results. My boss will give me all of the flexibility in the world if I consistently put up great numbers for the company.

    4. I have a lot of family that lives nearby and helps me. This is huge when you have a big day scheduled at work and someone wakes up with a fever. Always have a back up plan for who can fill in when something unexpected comes up and then you won’t fall behind at work. Make those people a regular part of your kids life from when they are babies so your kids feel extremely comfortable with them.

    I agree that being a Fortune 500 C-level executive or working in the White House is too extreme for a woman that has kids at home. But that is such a tiny segment of the sea of opportunities that are out there. No situation is going to be perfect, but if you really think out what’s important and how you want to balance it, I do think you can have a successful career and still be engaged daily with your kids. It’s not easy for sure! But nothing worthwhile ever is.

  44. Mariana Mai
    Mariana Mai says:

    That’s why I think girls should enter college / workforce earlier than boys. We do develop earlier, don’t we? 18 y old girls are much more mature than 18 y old boys.

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