By now, you’ve all heard about Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in the Atlantic about the difficulty of women who desire both a high-powered career and a family. Much have been made about the arguments for and against the notion of “having it all”. National Journal, a publication covering politics, recently did its take on that issue from the perspective of women working in Washington. In short, while we’re doing better than ever in high-level positions, we still lag in pay and opportunity compared to our male counterparts. We also find ourselves having to make the same tough decisions about family. All the debates and discussions have forced me to take a look at my own career and life.
My career path to lobbying is atypical. I’m a native Washingtonian whereas most of my colleagues came here for college or work. I never worked on Capitol Hill. I’m a 38 year-old african-american woman in a field that is dominated by 50 year-old caucasian men. Yet, I find myself as a senior lobbyist for a large professional association. Did my career benefit from the fact that I’m a single woman with no children? Honestly, it probably did. Being single and childless meant that I could work late and go to evening networking events and fundraisers. I could schedule committee meetings over the weekend and not worry about soccer games and date nights. I have a good life: a career I love, a great immediate family, and a circle of friends people would kill for. Yet and still, this isn’t exactly where I’d thought I would be. By 30, I thought I would have all of that plus a husband and two kids.
Do I still want a family of my own? Yes. Do I still want the career I have? Yes. Can I do both? That’s the question I can’t answer. Some of my friends who have the spouse, kids and the career seem to make it. Others are truly struggling. I think the best we can do is determine our definition of a successful, fulfilling life and go from there.