Can Women Really Have It All?


Five of our female experts voice their opinions!

Is it possible for women to have what they want in life? An article published in The Atlantic sparked controversy last summer when writer Annie-Marie Slaughter asserted that no, they can't. She found it impossible to perfectly balance her high-powered job with her home life raising two kids alongside her husband. But does this apply to all of us?

In this video, Senior VP of Experts Melanie Gorman poses this hotly debated question to YourTango Experts Danielle Dowling, Lisa Steadman, Kimberly Seltzer and Laura Campbell.

"I think having it all is an airbrushed and overbearing concept," says Dowling. "There are millions of women thinking they are to blame if they don't rise to the top of the corporate ladder as fast as men, if they don't have the family and if they don't have an active home life."

Want to learn more? Check out the video above!


Debi Berndt: Can you imagine just sitting in your apartment for even ten minutes without your TV on, without your Facebook, without your cellphone, and just being quiet -

Melanie Gorman: Yes, I can.


Melanie Gorman: There’s lots in the media about what it takes for women to be successful in the workplace.  But there’s also this question about balancing their feminine and masculine energy.  So what do you think it actually takes for a woman to be successful?

John Gray: Well again, how do you define success?  That’s the biggest issue.  That’s what women are writing to me all the time at marsvenus.com.  It’s the biggest show which is “can women have it all?”.  And from my point of view women can have it all but not at the same time.  You know?  Why do we have to have it all now?  You know, I live with this- my wife of 28 years, she has it all.  She has a husband who works hard.  She works hard sometimes, then she has kids.  Then suddenly she’s working part-time.  When she’s breastfeeding she’s not working at all.  Then she starts working part-time.  Kids grow up.  She’s working full-time.  Kids have babies.  Now she’s working part-time work.  She’s grandmother part-time.  You know, it’s a big life.  We have to think of a hundred years, you know?  Do we have to do everything now?  And yes, some people do want to do it all.  That’s their choice.  And for those people who want it all now you can still have it all but you don’t have to do it all.  So you have to become really good at delegating responsibility.  You have to be really good at learning how to ask for help, ask for support and create partnerships in your life so you can have the support so you can do it all- so you can have it all.  But you have other people to help you do it all. 

LiYana Silver: I agree and also want say, to take a turn, that without- I like to say, if a woman can have her masculine essence in service of her feminine then we’re talking.  Meaning if your feminine essence is why you do it and the ways that you’re passionate and your big “why” or big possibility, most of us are disconnected from that, and then our masculine essence is getting it done.  And if our masculine essence can be in service to our “why” and to our inspiration then you have a lot leftover when you’re done with your work day.

Melanie Gorman: What does that practically look like?

LiYana Silver: You know it can be even a visual reminder.  Like this is the person, this is the client I’m serving.  Or this is the greater inspiring message that we’re working for.  I see it every day.  That means “well, I’m emailing” or “I’m going to another meeting”, it’s less soul-sucking and over- like over-working me, ‘cause it’s still connected to something that’s juicing me up.

Debi Berndt: And I agree with that.  I also think that uh, people have this idea of success that we define it as you know, reaching a certain level on the corporate ladder or making a certain amount of money or getting married or having kids and what happens is women place their worth on those things instead of being just satisfied with who they are.  And the imbalance in the masculine/feminine is the masculine wanting to do, do, do and denying the feminine and they’re kind of chasing the carrot.  And they forget why they even went- the thing they want in the first place and they feel really out of balance and really drained and what’s happening is they’re not going inside and saying what is really important to me, what is my whole life?  Is success also being with someone I love-

John Gray: Yes, yes.

Debi Berndt: and actually having a peaceful life and having, you know, space in my day for me?  You know?

John Gray: Time.

Debi Berndt: Yes.

John Gray: What I see is like women that need to value- that’s their most important thing, and men don’t think about that.  Men are thinking “money” and women civilize men by saying “Wait a second, you can’t work all the time.  I need your attention, our family needs your attention.” and that helps make, bring them back to balance.  And when women are out of balance men are lost.

Debi Berndt: Yeah, well I think a lot of times we get into that overdrive because we’re just wanting to be distracted.  And we feel uncomfortable just being alone with ourself.  And can you imagine just sitting in your apartment for even ten minutes without your TV on, without your Facebook, without your cellphone, and just being quiet -

Melanie Gorman: Yes, I can.


Debi Berndt: Well, maybe you can. 

John Gray: You imagine it!

Melanie Gorman: I fantasize about that.

John Gray: It’s a fantasy, it’s a fantasy.

Debi Berndt: I swear in five minutes your mind will be like “oh, I should check my email, I should do this” -

Melanie Gorman: Yeah, yeah.

Debi Berndt: And we just have this, we’re now, we have available all over that we just don’t have that space any more and so we’re filling up our lives with things that don’t mean anything. 

Tammy Nelson: I also think it’s really hard to be a working mother.

Melanie Gorman: Amen to that.

Tammy Nelson: If I’m with my kids I feel guilty I’m not working more and if I’m working I feel guilty I’m not with my kids.  And that’s a common dilemma for parents, particularly women.  Every working mother I know feels that way and will feel that way throughout the lifetime of their children. 

John Gray: And people are trying to tell women not to feel guilty.  And my thing is listen to your feelings.  It’s so important for women to listen to their feelings and go into it and start doing more of what they feel good about.  When you do what you feel good about then you’re doing what you were saying about doing the juice of life, you know?  You can’t just be getting lost in the world where men are lost.  I mean women really bring out the best in men but when women become too much like men we’re all lost. 

Tammy Nelson: Well I agree but also think I feel great being with my kids and I feel great being at work.

John Gray: Yeah, but when you feel guilty-

Tammy Nelson: So it’s a challenge. 

John Gray: But you gotta find the balance and how do you know the balance point is what makes me feel good.  You have to find that within yourself but today there’s so much pressure on women that you should be making more money, you should be getting to the top, why aren’t women getting through the glass ceiling?  I asked the women who are way up there, close, “why didn’t you take this opportunity?” and they basically said “look, I’m making well over a hundred grand a year, why do I need to work so much?  I value time at this point more than the money”.  And I think women feel like “if I do that, if I push through that ceiling then I have to sacrifice my family”-

Melanie Gorman: Absolutely.

Tammy Nelson: And men feel like “if I push through that to get successful then I’m sacrificing for my family”.

John Gray: That’s the distinction.  So we feel like we’re having it all if we have a happy wife.  You know sometimes men- women are saying “gee, men have it all”.  Well men aren’t being with their children but when you have a happy wife and she’s with your children a man feels like I’m with my children because I’m providing for her and my family so that sense of being there.  But a woman has a deeper connection, or a different connection I might want to say.  She wants to be in that presence and from my point of view those children need her to be in their presence particularly when they’re young.

Melanie Gorman: Yeah, I think this is an incredibly complicated question.  If you’re women like me come watch this video again because the answers are in here but you gotta work at it.