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Working mothers have long struggled to balance career and family. Diane and her guests look at defining success and happiness, and whether it’s gotten easier to have it all.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. When The Atlantic magazine published the story "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," it got more hits in a 24-hour period than anything the magazine has ever done. The issue of how women balance work and family has been around for decades. Joining me in the studio: Judith Warner -- she is author of "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" -- Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, Linda Perlman Gordon, a family psychotherapist, and Wendy Chun-Hoon of Family Values @ Work.
MS. DIANE REHMWe do welcome your contributions during this conversation. Call us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com. Feel free to join us on Facebook or Twitter. And before we begin our conversation, I'm delighted to announce that WITF 89.5 FM in Harrisburg, Pa. joins the growing number of listeners to "The Diane Rehm Show." We welcome you, and good morning to all of you.
MS. JUDITH WARNERGood morning.
MS. WENDY CHUN-HOONGood morning, Diane.
MS. LINDA PERLMAN GORDONGood morning.
REHMGood to see you all. Ellen Galinsky, why do you think that this particular article got all this attention after all this time? This issue has been around forever.
MS. ELLEN GALINSKYIt's been around forever at the Families and Work Institute. We've been doing studies for two decades, and I've been doing studies for another decade. But I think that people -- it's like a latent issue. Everybody thinks of it as a personal problem and that they have to solve that problem.
MS. ELLEN GALINSKYAnd until we have someone as high profile as Anne-Marie Slaughter coming out and revealing what she calls half-truths, it just -- it's been discussed among friends, but it hasn't been discussed in public as much. It's typically on this -- the lifestyle page, not the business page or not the news page. It got page one in The New York Times.
REHMAnd, Judith Warner, give us some of the background to the article. And, again, it got attention because of the person involved, but it applied to a whole bunch of us.
WARNERI think it applies to a whole generation of women. Anne-Marie Slaughter represents sort of the tail end of the baby boom, I'd say. And I think that women who are more or less in her age group, women who are in mine -- let's say the beginning of Gen X -- have arrived at this point where they are looking at their lives, feeling that they should've been able to have it all. And many are really hitting a wall one way or the other and most of the time wondering what's wrong with them.
WARNERNow, it may be that professional pressures are too much, family pressures are too much, financial pressures, relationship pressures of whatever kind. But there is a sense of hitting limits, unexpected limits, and the tendency always is, as she points out rightly in the article, for them to blame themselves.
REHMAnd, Linda Perlman Gordon, what does having it all mean today?
GORDONThat's a really good question. I think that Anne-Marie Slaughter is -- the reason that her point was so important is because she was really talking about having it all meaning being at the absolute top, the pinnacle. Whereas a lot of the women that I see in therapy and the women that I talk to are really talking about being happy and satisfied and being able to have both a job and raise their kids.
GORDONBut what you're finding is that women in their mid-30s now, who are already established in their careers, think that they're going to be able to balance it all. And many are blindsided by this pull, this pull of having to leave their child of three months. Many find that they're not even able to take three months maternity leave and do that with a full heart. And they're really dependent on flexible jobs and husbands that are supportive.
REHMAnd, of course, we should mention Anne-Marie Slaughter had an extremely understanding boss in Hillary Clinton, but, Wendy Chun-Hoon, not everybody has the option to work or not work to care for family or not.
CHUN-HOONThat's right, Diane, and I think the article was, first and foremost, important because, despite the fact that millions of moms are struggling to keep up, both at work and at home, we don't talk about this as a country. And it's far -- you know, it's high time that we start talking about these things. You know, the reality for most working moms is that they have far few -- fewer choices than Anne-Marie Slaughter.
CHUN-HOONAnd she absolutely acknowledges that in her article. And the struggle for them really isn't about commitment or ambition. It's about keeping your job and paying the bills. And, you know, I think where we fundamentally agree is that public policy and workplace policy needs to adapt, needs to update, in order to support all families in our country.
REHMSo we have a group of women, a generation of women, entering the workplace now who saw their mothers at work. Isn't that true, and doesn't that make a huge difference, Linda?
GORDONYou know, that is so -- that's such a personal thought that I had because I was that woman. I became -- you know, I was a mother in 1973. So I had just written -- I had just read that Betty Friedan, and I bought my daughter a T-shirt that said, a woman's place is in the house and the Senate. And I proudly paraded my little toddler in that shirt. And I believed that there was no difference in the nature of boys and girls.
GORDONI believed that it was all about nurture, and it was all about our culture. And I taught my daughter a very simplified version of what I think might be reality. I'm a little confused about what the differences are between men and women, and, as a young mother, I wasn't confused. I thought there were no differences. And I feel like that's what women are grappling with now. We have to figure out whether there can be differences in terms of what we want.
GORDONIn other words, we're surprised by how pulled we are to be with our children. A lot of them feel like they're going to be continuing their careers without any hitches. The truth is you have to be able to have it all at different times, and you have to be able to do things and understand that you have the freedom to do it all at different times and give yourself that permission.
REHMOf course, that's been my theme forever since I began. Ellen?
GALINSKYWell, I was going to say, here's a showstopper, though. At the Families and Work Institute, we keep track of how much conflict people feel, and our data go back to 1977. So in 1977, 35 percent of women -- of mothers in dual-earner families felt some or a lot of conflict between their work and family life compared to 41 percent of women, mothers. But now that figure has reversed. Fathers are feeling more work-life conflict than mothers. Sixty percent of fathers are feeling conflict compared with 47 percent of men. And so it's not just a women's issue.
GALINSKYWe looked very hard -- our paper's called "The New Male Mystique." Linda, you mentioned Betty Friedan. We find that men are living a series of half-truths, too. They feel very pressured to be the breadwinner in a tough economy, and so they may not take the lion's share of work in the home. They don't still. But they are spending a whole lot more time with their kids, and they're doing a lot more. And they're feeling even more pulled than women are who have had a generation of mothers to look at. Men have not had the role models in some ways that women have.
WARNERI think it's really important to remember as we move this conversation forward -- a conversation, as you said at the outset, has been going on for a very, very long time -- that men and women's lives are converging, and their needs and desires are converging, that they're becoming more and more alike. And I noticed this just even when you look at different age groups of couples. As you get a little bit younger, as you get into the 30s and below, I think this becomes more and more true. And there are surveys that back that up as well.
WARNERAnd what that means for this debate is understanding that this -- as Ellen said, this isn't just the women's issue. Women are sort of at the vanguard of talking about this because they've been talking and thinking about it for decades now. And it's expected to be their issue, so they've got it at the forefront of their minds. But as we move forward, we have to remember that this is a society-wide problem and that if we're going at this point to have solutions that are really going to work, they've got to be solutions that are addressed to and are intended for both men and women.
REHMBut what about women and men, Wendy, at the lower end of the economic spectrum?
CHUN-HOONYeah. I think this is where the discussion of choice really sort of, you know, hits home. There are very few choices. You know, what we know -- Ellen, you started to talk about this. What we know is that, you know, two-thirds of all moms today are either primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in their family. That's vastly different than it was, you know, a generation ago.
CHUN-HOONWomen are half the workforce today. And they're there by necessity. Families really can't make it on a single income. They need dual earners in their households. And, you know, what we see every day from working moms and dads, what we hear every day is that, you know, they are struggling to be a good parent and a good employee. And that's really not a choice. It's not a fair choice. It's not a real choice. And workplaces really do need to catch up, and I know we'll probably dive into that.
REHMSo are women at the lower end of the economic level, are they saying to themselves the same way women at the upper end are saying, I want to have it all? Or are they engaged in a different dialogue?
CHUN-HOONI think maybe both, you know, maybe both. I'm sure that people are aspiring in all levels. But, you know, I think it's really much more pressing. I mean, whenever I see an article, whenever the country comes up and talks about this, I really wish we would go the next step and say, we actually need to address this. These are not women's issues. These are families' issues, and we are past time for addressing this.
REHMWendy Chun-Hoon of Family Values @ Work. And we'll take a short break here. When we come back, I look forward to hearing your questions and comments. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're talking about an issue that has been brought once again to the forefront by an article in The Atlantic magazine that got more hits in the first 24 hours than the magazine has ever had. It's all about women, and the title of the cover article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All."
REHMI've got four people here in the studio: Judith Warner, author of "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety," Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, author of "Mind in the Making," Linda Perlman Gordon, a psychotherapist in private practice here in the Washington area, co-author of "Too Close for Comfort," and Wendy Chun-Hoon. She is with Family Values @ Work.
REHMWe are going to open the phone shortly and take your question, comments, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us on Facebook or Twitter. Is there a mindset at work here, Judith Warner, that says, I deserve it all? I-want-it-all society has opened the doors. I can go into any workplace. I can have my children. Is there a mindset that says you should be able to do it all?
WARNERThat's a tricky question because it's gets into the area of, are the women that Anne-Marie Slaughter speaks for entitled elite women, which is the angle that the New York Times took immediately when they, you know, framed and headlined their front page story, and it's an angle that I personally have a very hard time with. If you remember, the phrase, elite women, was in the headline. A lot of the criticism of this story has focused in that way on these elite women, which is not at all what Wendy was saying before.
WARNERWendy was just saying that we have to open this debate knowingly, knowledgably. And I agree completely. But the problem is -- and a journalist said this to me at the time that "Perfect Madness" came out -- attacking a woman who speaks up on an important issue as an elite woman, who doesn't actually represent anyone but herself and her own sense of entitlement, is a line of reasoning that has been used for over a century to shut women up when they have something to say.
WARNERAnd I think we have to be very cautious in going down that path, and I think we have to avoid that. And we have to remember that we never say -- we never look at, let's say, a public intellectual or a professor or a man in politics who's emitting an opinion and say, oh, well, he's just an elite man speaking for entitled elite men. We never say it. So I think we have to, you know, call that into question. That said, do women who have a lot of choices feel like they should be able to act on those choices? They do feel that way. They were brought up that way, and I'm not sure there's anything wrong with that.
GORDONThere's nothing wrong with it. I think what happens is that it just creates a certain pressure and a certain stress. It's because there you are, knowing this is a wonderful smorgasbord of opportunities and options, and how do you juggle it? And that's exactly what's happening, is that a lot of women feel like they're not able to give either their best, their career or their home life. They feel like they could do it well, but it's not to the standard that they might hope to.
REHMEllen, give me a sense of your own history and how you managed it.
GALINSKYWell, let me first say that we did a survey of mothers a few years ago asking what their image was. Was it -- and it was mixed incomes. Was it -- because the other side of having it all is doing it all, and we asked whether they thought that they were -- they wanted to have it all or -- and do it all or not. Very few women -- and most of these now had had women in workforce. Very few women said that that was their view, the superwoman kind of view.
GALINSKYThey wanted to be able to do well across the income levels and at being a parent and at work and know that there are tradeoffs all along and decisions that you make not just for your life but every single day, every single hour. My own history is that, when my first child was born, I reduced my time and worked two days a week, but I also wrote books during that other time -- took me along time to write a book, but...
REHMBut you kept on going.
GALINSKYI kept on going because of personal reasons. My mother was a widow. She ended up having to go to work in a job that wouldn't have been the job of her dreams had she not been a widow and had to support her two little children. And I was very, very determined that the kind of work I'd do -- I knew I had to earn a living. That certainly was my childhood lesson. But I also knew that I wanted to care about the work I did. So I never stopped working.
REHMAnd, Wendy, you're somewhat younger. Did you have your own role model?
CHUN-HOONI think we draw -- I have many role models. I think, right now, role models for me -- I have 6-month-old, so I'm new to this parenting -- is really watching, you know, all the moms and dads -- the majority of moms and dads that are a part of our coalitions all across the country who are making it work every single day just getting by. I am constantly reminded that I have many more choices than they do and many more privileges than they do. And they're making it work.
CHUN-HOONAnd I think, you know, one thing that scares me as a new parent -- and there are two of us parenting here, and so I'm imagining all the moms who are doing this alone or all the dads doing this alone. What scares me and what, I think, we come, you know, we see every day is the sense of -- not can I have it all. It's, am I going to lose it all? You know, for instance, and I just -- I have to say this because, Ellen, when you said earlier that most people see this as a personal problem, there are 44 million workers out there who cannot earn, are not allowed to earn a single paid sick day.
CHUN-HOONSo I'm, you know, here with my newborn, six months old. We've already been sick twice for a whole month in our households. Luckily, I have and can earn paid sick days. Many people cannot, and we know that kids don't, you know, get sick on the weekend. We -- I don't know a single parent who's been able to teach their kid that yet.
REHMAnd, Linda, what about your own background and history?
GORDONYou know, I really had no model for working. I was a solidly middle- to upper-middle-class kid without a working mother in sight. And I found myself -- I think I was just ambitious. And I -- what I had to do was make it up every single step of the way. I was lucky enough that I didn't have to support my family.
GORDONAnd so I had flexibility and became, at the very beginning, an entrepreneur and opened up an art gallery. And that was my first career, and I was able to balance motherhood and career. But there was a certain ambition and drive, and I always felt like I had to make it up as I was going along.
REHMAnd, of course, the economy was such that you could do it.
GORDONThat's right. That's exactly right.
REHMAnd what about you, Judith?
WARNERI can say honestly that, in a lot of ways, I was completely clueless. I did not make conscious choices along the way. I didn't have role models. I think that I thought that everything would sort of fall into my lap. I mean, I can admit to that now at 47. And I think, though, also, you know, admitting to this, I think a lot of women my age were like that. We just sort of assumed things would work out. We would work hard. We always worked hard. We would work hard, and so we would get where we wanted to go.
WARNERAnd somehow, we didn't think about the sort of work-family issues that would come up. We didn't think about the challenges that would pose. We certainly didn't see ourselves as standard bearers for, you know, the women's movement. We were, I think, up to a point turning up our noses at that, even as we benefited from it and wouldn't have had the opportunities we'd had without it. But I think there was a certain -- I might even say self-centered cluelessness about us a group.
REHMYou know, it's interesting. We haven't yet talked about money and the disparity in earnings between men and women. And certainly that's one of the issues that Anne-Marie Slaughter brought up in her article, a very important factor, Linda.
GORDONAbsolutely. And there are disparities, but I've also worked with a lot of couples were the men are out of work. And even though the woman might not have the same earning power -- or I also have to add that I do work with women who actually make more than their men -- their husbands normally. And they feel an enormous amount of pressure to keep working, and there's a lot of -- there's just a lot of pressure for them to figure out how to do it all.
GORDONAnd one of the things that I think is really important is -- and I don't know whether this is a giant issue -- but you need two people with good organizational skills. And the women that have men that are disorganized, it is not a small issue in their marriage. It is incredibly -- it adds a lot of pressure.
REHMWell, it would seem that having two people who are willing to work together -- one may be better organized than the other, but if you've got two people who are willing to work together, that's fine. But there are some where that doesn't happen, Wendy.
CHUN-HOONYeah. I've been thinking, you know, I really think there are two issues about money. One -- you know, we learned from the families we work with in all of our states that they're making -- these families are making rational decisions based on who's paid more, who has paid leave, who doesn't. And, you know, they are going to choose every time to make that rational decision, which is why we need things like paid family leave, paid sick days so that families really do have a broader set of choices.
CHUN-HOONThe other thing is -- and this is reflective of my own personal -- as you were all sharing your personal inspirations -- when -- it's the question of care-giving and how we value care-giving in our country and how we do or don't yet reward that monetarily.
REHMAnd to you, Ellen.
GALINSKYWell, I wanted to say something about -- although women don't make as much as men -- and we all know that that has been very stubborn to change -- what we do know is that women contribute 45 percent of all family income in two-earner households and that -- so women are vital to families getting ahead, and that 26 percent of women earn more than their husbands or partners, at least 10 percent or more.
GALINSKYAnd we're not talking about the Fortune magazine types that we think of when I -- when something like that is said. Most of these are lower earning families where the women earns more. We've talked about flexibility, and I also wanted to say that women have less access to flexibility than men. Our national data show this. Lower income people, less well-educated people have much less access to flexibility than better educated or higher income people.
GALINSKYWe've created flexibility primarily around full-time jobs. We've created much more flexibility to go run an errand during the day, but not to take sick time off. We've been working very hard at the Families and Work Institute with the voluntary employers to try to increase flexibility through a project we have with SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, where we've worked -- we'll be, in 2014, in all 50 states -- working very hard to try to increase it.
REHMEllen Galinsky, she's president of the Families and Work Institute. I was interested -- and I do need to remind you you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I was interested, Linda Gordon, in your response to the idea of when parents are needed most by children.
GORDONI think of it as bookends. I think they're needed a lot when the children are young. And then when they're school age, they're actually not needed as much as they're needed again in the teenage years. And many parents are surprised by that. And at -- I once heard Hillary Clinton say that she was around the White House an awful lot when Chelsea was a teenager.
GORDONAnd I've quoted her a lot 'cause she said she was just looking for a sighting because if she wasn't around, she wouldn't be able to have those moments with her daughter. So she felt like she physically had to be there more when her daughter was a teenager. And I think that, depending on your teenager, you really have to have your finger on the pulse. And you're not getting that information from your child, so you have to have some face time.
REHMAnd that's the question: What is it that kids want most, Ellen Galinsky?
GALINSKYI did a study of children, and I said -- I asked them, if you had one wish that could change the way -- I ask about your mother or your father's work affects your life, what would it be? And I asked parents to guess, and parents guessed more time. Fifty-six percent of parents thought their kids would want more time. I only gave kids one wish. And if they only had one wish, they wanted their parents to be less tired and less stressed.
REHMInteresting. Interesting. And, you know, throughout this election period, we've been hearing about this "war on women." How do you think this article will add or define or change this debate, Judith Warner?
WARNERI fear that it may play into the attacks on so-called elite women because it is written by a woman who is high income, highly educated, et cetera, and so it puts herself in the line of fire.
REHMAnd now moving to Princeton. Yes.
WARNERExactly. So I think that it may refocus somewhat on that group of women and may sort of, at least for a little while, deepen the perceived schism between these women and everyone else. I don't believe it's as deep as people say.
REHMI hope what it does is to generate a conversation between couples, among families, among bringing parents together with their children of whatever age. Obviously, the older, the more understanding there's going to be on the part of the child. But it's so difficult to have this kind of conversation sort of in limbo, Judith.
WARNERI hope that it will spark more compassion. I think part of the reason that it's been so easy for people to attack Anne-Marie Slaughter is that she made herself very vulnerable in speaking about her decision and speaking about her life in a very personal way, which I applaud her for. I think she did a beautiful job with that.
WARNEROne thing she made very clear from the outset is that this is her personal story and that her story came about, in part, by a specific set of personal circumstances, one of which was having a 14-year-old son who was having difficulties. And she really felt that she had to be there. That was a parenting decision that came about because of the circumstances of her life.
WARNERShe makes clear that she is discussing her particular challenge that -- and that, by extension then, the understanding is that different women and men have different challenges depending on their individual circumstances. And I think that, to the degree that we can all understand that and put ourselves in someone else's shoes when they make decisions that may bring on harsh judgments and realize that this is the case for all of us, I think her article will have done great work.
REHMJudith Warner, author of "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety." And we'll take a short break here. When we come back, it's time to open the phones, and I certainly do look forward to hearing from all of you.
REHMAnd welcome back. In fact, we have three men and three women waiting on the line. We'll try to get to as many of your calls and emails as we can, as we discuss women having it all. Let's go to Durham, N.H. Oh, my goodness, what's happened to the phones? Have they gone down? Yeah, phones have all gone down. All right. Let me go to an email here.
REHMThis from Malka: (sp?) "How should we advise our daughters? We push them to achieve and excel in school. Kids of middle -- upper-middle-class families have incredible pressures to do well. For what end? To end up with law degrees, et cetera and find that they will always be under stress and face the guilt of parenting versus career?" Judith.
WARNERThat question really -- it sort of strikes too close to home because I have two daughters, one 12, one 15, and so I think about these things every day. What do we tell our daughters? I think we tell them to make conscious choices at each point in their lives. I think, in the background then, we work to create a better world for them, and we work to change the conversation around motherhood so that the guilt piece that the listener is writing in about is not there and so that they have the structures in place so that they will have real choices.
REHMWhat are other Western countries doing about this? I mean, don't women have equal opportunities elsewhere, Linda?
GORDONWell, from what we always hear now from the books on French mothering, I think what we see is a savoring of the pieces of life that a lot of Americans don't know to savor. So that's having a good meal, being with friends. And getting back to that original question, I would tell my daughters that having it all is not just having career and children, that having it all is having a balanced life, and that includes friendships.
GORDONIt includes taking time with your husband. It includes taking time for yourself. So having it all means looking at an entire life, not just rising to the top. Now, I say that hoping that enough women in policy will rise to the top to change the workplace. But in terms of a -- an individual level, as a mother, I would talk about balance.
CHUN-HOONYeah, you mentioned -- your question was about what other Western countries are doing about this. I just have to take a minute and point out that when it comes to very fundamental, basic things, like paid family leave so that you're able to do things like nurture your child in the first couple of months, breastfeed, which we all know leads to great things, and really bond, the United States is one of the last three countries in the world to not provide this.
REHMInteresting. And Heather writes, "I am currently preparing a proposal to request to work from home at least one day a week. I'm a mother of a preschooler, an employee of the legislative branch of the federal government where teleworking is not supported. I'm extremely hesitant to mention the family-work balance issue in my proposal, thinking this would be seen as weakening my argument. How do the panelists suggest women address this family-work balance issue with supervisors?" Ellen.
GALINSKYAt the end of March in 2010, President Obama had a -- the first White House summit on workplace flexibility. He thinks it's that important that we both have employers be responsive and have better policies. He announced that telework would be much more common. He didn't want any more snowmageddons when Washington was shut down. So the federal government has actually taken a stance to increase flexibility.
GALINSKYI would suggest that Heather write and make a business case for working at home one day a week. That is, she talks about how it can benefit her employer and how it can benefit her. We have reams of data -- and she only has to go on to our website -- that shows that flexibility can work for both the employer and the employee. So she needs to make sure she takes the employer's perspective, too.
REHMDo you all agree with that? Is that the best way to go, Linda?
GORDONWell, I think -- yeah, I think you have to go at it from a business point of view. And I also think that, you know, the article, if anything, has allowed her now to have a voice and to know that she has a voice with -- probably this morning, it may even be up to a million hits that The Atlantic article had. And so, you know, I was just thinking -- and this is in the side -- that a woman in medical school that I knew was about to apply for her residency, and she was told to turn her engagement ring around.
GORDONI mean -- and this is just recent. And so it is always seen. It still is seen that if you're asking for something that has to do with childcare, that it's less professional. And it's important for us to have women like Heather speak up and tell the truth.
REHMAnne-Marie Slaughter says the best hope for improving things for all women is to close the leadership gap. What are your thoughts, Judith?
WARNERI would like to believe that, you know, she meant the leadership gap between men and women, elect more women. It really depends who we elect, though. You have to elect women who are committed to these issues, who are committed to these sort of progressive policies that make balancing work and family more possible.
WARNERThere are men who are deeply committed to these issues, too. There are women who are simply deeply committed to a more individualistic way of seeing government, seeing the role of people in the workplace and who I don't think could be counted on to advance this kind of social vision.
REHMAll right. Let's hear from David, who's in Southlake, Texas. Good morning.
DAVIDThank you very much for taking my call.
DAVIDI was kind of a dad who's made the decision with my wife to stay at home with our two kids. You know, we balanced career for about seven years with our two kids. We have an 8 and a 10-year-old. And given -- we've moved four years -- four times in the last six years for job-related opportunities. You know, it's kind of required that one of us stay home, and we both -- you know, we're on executive-level tracks. My wife's in a global position, so she travels a lot. I had to stay home.
DAVIDAnd, I have to say, as a dad, I don't think the issues we're talking about today are just women's issues. They're really families' issues, and the kids really suffer. I'm amazed at how many attachment disorders kids have in schools because they don't get enough parent time.
DAVIDAnd when I look around at all of the family-oriented organizations, they're mostly talking about birth control and abortion. But they're not talking about school days that end at two o'clock when most people, after their commute, get home after 7:00. What do you do with your children then? I mean, there's a range of challenges that parents face today that I don't think our parents faced, frankly. I...
REHMDavid, I think you're absolutely right. Linda, you must hear this a lot.
GORDONI do. And the work schedule and the school schedule don't match at all. So you have kids that are off for two weeks, and there's nothing in place at all in society. The only thing you can do is be able to afford childcare. And if you can't afford childcare, you have nothing to -- you have no way to help your kids.
CHUN-HOONYeah, I appreciate David's point of view so much. You know, these are family issues. Yes, they impact women disproportionately. But they really are family issues. And about Anne-Marie Slaughter's point in reclaiming family values, you know, there's an urgency. Voters understand this urgency, and it's not always just kids. Some are taking care of aging parents as well. The political appetite for this, these issues like making sure if workers have paid sick days, paid family leave, real basic stuff, poll off the charts with likely voters. The time is now. The urgency is now. The possibility is now.
REHMBut, you know, I don't really see anything changing massively. I wonder how much we are going to see change come in the next few years. To Montgomery County, Md. Good morning, Joy.
JOYI think that what it takes to give what children need is really unknown. I do not think you can divide it like, you know, some material thing, and you cannot serve two masters simultaneously. And this idea about planning, you know, your hours and your work and your time is not giving justice to what people really need. And I think that is why, since children have taken actually a third place in, really, the priorities, this society is not doing well.
GALINSKYWe actually look at that issue in our national studies. And we find that, increasingly, people have become much more family centered, much more family oriented. It's why you're getting these million hits on The Atlantic. It's just that they've stayed at the personal level. If we can make this a public discussion, if we cannot kill the messenger, if we can have decision makers, whether they're in companies or in making policy understand this, we could do a lot of good.
REHMAll right. And joining us now is James Bennet who is the editor of The Atlantic. And, James, I'm wondering, what do you think of the extraordinary reaction you've had? Oh dear, we haven't got him. That's too bad. Let's go to Karen in North Florida. Good morning. You're on the air.
KARENHi. Thank you so much for this. When married, my husband didn't comprehend that my C-section and our move to a new town was really hard for me. And then when I was divorced, as a single parent, I really needed more support from my religious home. And there is really an incredible need for really, really good training in computer literacy. And I feel the way a lot of other callers do too. Thank you so much, Diane.
REHMAll right, Karen. I'm glad you called, and I hope you continue to fare well. To West Lafayette, Ind. Kate, you're on the air.
KATEHi, Diane. I'm so glad you're feeling better.
KATESo I just wanted to say, as someone who's coming from a single mother home, I have a great example of, you know, how a mother handles all of it, and especially my mom. She actually was below the poverty level. So here I am. I've worked extremely hard at school. I've always had a job in order to put myself through college. I'm in graduate school now. And over the years, I don't know how my mom did it without going crazy.
KATEAnd I just find, you know, women are so much more willing to put their health and their personal, physical needs aside in order to do very well at school or their job or take wonderful care of their family. But now we have this so many very tired or sometimes just women with maybe a really bad attitude, and it's really no fault of their own. And, I mean, it's just something to keep in mind as well. Taking care of yourself is a full-time job, too.
REHMTalk about the age of anxiety, Judith.
WARNERAnd, again, I just keep hearing all of these stories of personal necessity coming through in the voices. Everyone who's calling in or writing in, everyone has these stories that then create various sorts of necessity they have to act on in their lives. And they should have the right to be able to make real choices that work for them and for their families.
REHMAll right. Now, I hope we have James Bennet, editor of The Atlantic. Are you there?
MR. JAMES BENNETI'm here, Diane.
REHMI'm glad to have you with us. Tell us about the overwhelming reaction you've had to this article.
BENNETIt really has been extraordinary. We anticipated a strong response because we believed it to be such a powerful and important piece, but not to the degree we've gotten. And, I mean, the magazine piece, within its first few days online, has done more -- brought in more audience than any previous piece we've ever published.
BENNETI think we're closing on around 800,000 unique visitors. And it started earning -- you know, the different ways we can track audience response these days, it started garnering Facebook recommends at an extraordinary rate in its first...
REHMOK. But then the question becomes, where do you go from here? You've had this extraordinary article, a super extraordinary reaction. What do you, as editor, take from this? Where do you go?
BENNETWell, first of all, this piece is one in a long series we've been doing, Diane, over a couple of years, a kind of occasional series on the structural changes in our economy and how they're changing family structure and male-female relationships. So this is already, you know, one more block in a long kind of, I hope, edifice we've been building. But we're doing an online debate today in coming days among Anne-Marie Slaughter and other writers, including Hanna Rosin, who's written about this subject for us as well, and inviting our readers in.
BENNETAnd then I'm incredibly grateful for this show you're doing today because our aspiration in doing any of these pieces is to start a conversation or, you know, to highlight an important subject that deserves to be talked about. So we're going to continue debating it and discussing it, but our hope is that, you know, in forms like yours and others -- and I actually think in dinner tables all across America over the weekend, people were talking about this.
REHMIndeed. And the next level would be at the presidential level. Do you think that this issue is -- that your article is going to draw more attention from those who are in the rule-making position?
BENNETAbsolutely. I mean, absolutely. I hope that the candidates will be asked about this theme. I hope that Hillary Clinton will, at some point, address it. It seems relevant. I would love to hear what she has to say about this. I mean, she has talked about this in various ways over the years, but specifically to address the kinds of points Anne-Marie is making in her story, I think, would be very valuable.
REHMAnd, you know, it was interesting that long ago, it used to be thought that children and food and nutrition and child care were all simply women's issues, minor issues. And now, clearly, they come to the fore of a national conversation. James Bennet, I want to congratulate you on publication of the article, and thank you for joining us this morning.
BENNETThank you so much, Diane.
REHMAll right. And last quick point, Linda.
GORDONWell, I have one point that I think needs to be stated. We keep talking about the feminist mothers from the '60s and '70s raising their daughters. We also raised those men. And we raised the boys to be the fathers of today.
GORDONAnd so I think that we should think about and that it all came from that.
REHMLinda Perlman, Judith Warner, Ellen Galinsky, Wendy Chun-Hoon, thank you all for being part of this extraordinarily important conversation. Thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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