She Works: Having It All

May 9, 2013

For our series on the Changing Lives of Women, we're asking NPR women about their careers — and inviting you to join the conversation. This question goes to All Things Considered host Audie Cornish.

Question: What does it mean to have it all?

Audie Cornish: "OK, this just seems like kind of an antiquated notion, certainly for women of this generation. I'd like to think, no matter how broad these debates get, that we essentially aren't going to be judged for our choices. Now, of course, you are going to be judged. But the idea of this is that you can decide if you want to stay home. You can decide if you want to work. You can decide if you want outside help, and do a little of both, or telecommute or whatever you need to make your family work — that's OK. And that is what's different from previous generations.

"And I think the debate about whether 'we can have it all' is really a debate among people who have the luxury of choice. It's people who don't ever have to worry about working and putting food on the table in the same way so they can really sit back and say, 'What would make me happy?' And I think for a lot of women for many generations, for lots of working-class women today, that is not an option. You have to do what you have to do, and that's it. There's no precious discussion about it, there's no back and forth about it. So the 'have it all' question — I think it's a meaningless question for a great number of women."

What does "having it all" mean to you? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

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