Stephanie Coontz: Why is 'Having It All' Just a Women's Issue?





Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and co-chairs the Council on Contemporary Families. Her most recent book is "A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s."

(CNN) -- The July/August cover story of the Atlantic, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" by Anne-Marie Slaughter, has ignited a firestorm....

Slaughter's article contains a powerful critique of the insanely rigid workplace culture that produces higher levels of career-family conflict among Americans -- among men and women -- than among any of our Western European counterparts, without measurably increasing our productivity or gross national product. And she makes sensible suggestions about how to reorganize workplaces and individual career paths to lessen that conflict....

The irony is that most jobs, even top professional positions, do not actually require as much absenteeism from family as employers often impose. University of Texas sociologist Jennifer Glass, a senior fellow at the Council on Contemporary Families, points out that corporate and government professionals in the United States put in much longer workweeks than their counterparts in Europe, where limits on work hours are common, workplace flexibility is more widespread, and workers are entitled to far more vacation days per year than most Americans -- and actually use them....



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