Maybe it is possible to have a demanding federal job and raise happy kids
Like many women in Washington -- and a lot of men, too -- I read with fascination Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter's article in The Atlantic about the challenges she faced in her time in government and the conclusions she drew from her experience. As a career Foreign Service officer currently in a high-level position, and as the mother of two boys aged 8 and 11, I was riveted by Dr. Slaughter's description of the environment in which I work every day. But while Dr. Slaughter concluded that it was impossible to "have it all" as a high-level official in government, my experience could not be more different.
In conversation after conversation, my colleagues and I puzzled over why Dr. Slaughter's experience had so contrasted with ours. Was it because she had tasted another life, that of an academic who had a level of control over her schedule that we could not even imagine? Was it because she tried out government work while living in a different city from her family?
Regardless of why our experiences differed so greatly, I was left thinking not only about my own experience, but about the responsibility we women have to create change by introducing a different environment for the younger, more junior officers -- both male and female -- whether in government or elsewhere. After a stream of officers in the bureau I lead stopped in to tell me that they wished I would weigh in, I decided to add some of my thoughts and experiences to the conversation.
Read more of Foreign Service officer Dana Shell Smith's response to "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" on The Atlantic.