Working Mothers and the Myth of Having it All

Traci will soon contract the dreaded ‘latch-key’ disease, become involved with drugs and sex at an early age and will end up homeless and miserable as an adult. Johnny, on the other hand, will likely finish college and lead a happy, healthy, ‘normal’ life with a house in the suburbs, a loving wife, a dog, and 2.2 children. This scenario fits the perception of many regarding working mothers and the resulting effects on the family. The evidence, however, refutes this erroneous assumption. Although it does seem true that working mothers cannot have it all, that does not necessarily prevent them from having much and should not be used as an argument to make working mothers feel guilty about the need to work.

According to the myth, the chaos of juggling a career and a family provides unique, otherwise unattainable training and inspiration to become a better career woman and a better mother at one and the same time. This idea is refuted not only by common sense – how can the stress and worry of a high-powered career possibly help a mother also deal with the stress and worry of the family – but by statistics reported in the Harvard Business Review article entitled “Corporate Women and the Myth of Having it All” (2002). According to this article, fully half of all ultra-achieving career women (defined as those who earn more than $100,000 per year) who are above the age of 41 remain childless as compared to the 19 percent of men in the same position (over age 41 in ultra-achieving careers). This is perhaps explained by the disparity among their spouses. While most highly successful men are reported in this article to be married to women with lower career goals, most career women are married to men who have equal or greater career goals.&nbsp.Finally, the article also indicates that almost 90 percent of high-achieving women feel it is possible, safe and preferable to become pregnant well into their 40s.