The question "can women have it all?" has been a question asked in headlines throughout the last year. In July, Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo reported that women simply cannot have it all? Women have been bombarded with words such as "balance" and "priorities", which inadvertently send the message that "all" must be the same for every woman, by virtue of the fact that we are women. However, is this question in and of it-self becoming more and more problematic?
The question is littered with assumptions; one of them being that in order to have a thriving career, your personal life with particular focus on children, will inevitably suffer. However, this predicament, or "either-or" approach is not presented to men. It is naturally assumed that men can have it all, because they do not have biological clocks and therefore have the luxury of choice as to when or if in fact they choose to have children. If a man chooses not to have children, he does so without stigma. Women, however, are not afforded with the same courtesy. Surely, if an ambitious man can have a thriving career and healthy personal life; women can also, without question.
Facebook and Apple are assisting their female employees by announcing a program for their women employees by offering a new health benefits cover which allow egg-freezing treatments. The idea of the additional health benefit is to help their employees, who wish to have children, delay their family plans while being able to focus on their career progression. Facebook and Apple are massive companies who have once again, inadvertently, sent a message to women all over the world; you can have it "all", just not at the same time. Now, whilst I am sure that this was not their intention, the irony is difficult to ignore. Putting aside the obvious corporate advantages to the scheme for both Facebook and Apple, does this once again, present women with yet another "dilemma" that men simply do not have to deal with. Facebook and Apple have attempted to provide a solution to the 'can women have it all' discussion, providing the answer; women can have it all, your employer will cover you so that you can work a little while longer and have children later. Whilst, I am obviously not against a woman freezing her eggs, is it appropriate for employers to be involved in a woman's family planning. Why can't a woman have a child when she chooses without having to endure the subliminal message that you have to trade career success with starting a family.
Hilary Clinton addressed this issue perfectly, when asked by journalist Christian Amanpour, "The Ultimate Hard Choice? Grandmother or the possibility of being the first female president of the Unites States of America?" Hilary Clinton replied, "There have been a lot grandfathers who have done it."
Can women have it all? I don't know, what is "all"? Can men have it all? Is there a health benefit scheme that suggests that men will have to choose between children and their careers, if there is, I would be interested to see it.
The question of what "all" is and what it means for millennial women is discussed in the latest W Talk podcast. To listen please visit www.thewtalk.com.