Do women have themselves to blame for work-family imbalances?


Even with economic advantages, advanced degrees and a husband dedicated to sharing the burden, why do some working moms still feel that a high-powered career is not possible?

That is one of the central questions buzzing about the internet, our offices and dinner conversations since the Atlantic's current cover story "Women Still Can't Have It All," hit a few days ago. Penned by a former chief policy adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the article explains her own struggles with work/life balance, as well as suggestions for how the American workplace should adjust and be more accommodating to working moms.

So, we thought we'd share some of our own conversations with you and we put together our own, admittedly unscientific focus group of working moms. ABC's veteran White House correspondent Ann Compton, correspondent Reena Ninan, and 'Good Morning America' contributor and author Claire Shipman joined Top Line's own Amy Walter tackle the question: Can women have it all?

"I've always thought women can have it all," says Compton, who has worked full-time with ABC's White House team for more than thirty years -- through seven presidents, and four kids. The keys, she says, are flexibility and a supportive spouse.

"My generation of women have this luxury of -- if you want to stay at home, and take a couple years off for your career, that's possible," counters Ninan. "Perhaps a generation ago, it wasn't an option."

Walter reminds that sometimes having it all comes with a lot of guilt -- and it's a guilt women put on themselves. "When women don't succeed at doing all those things, they internalize it and blame themselves," says Walter. Women beat themselves up much more than men, she argues.

"We are raised to be perfect," says Shipman. "That's not what works in the real world. Making mistakes, doing things with shortcuts, taking risks [works]. And I think that's hard for women."

But do young women today even want to "have it all?" And what about men having it all? Check out this week's Top Line for more and let us know what you think below.