How Can Women Really Have It All? #TheUglyTruth

As young women, we want to thrive in our careers.  We want to do what we love and make a difference in the world while doing so.  The challenge remains- how are we supposed to figure out what it is that love to do, land a job aligned to that passion, AND change the world, all before we start having kids and they take priority? It just seems impossible.


Indra Nooyi, Female CEO of PepsiCo

Female CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, caught the attention of the public eye in a candid and honest interview on work-life at the Aspen Ideas Festival earlier this week. Indra Nooyi has two daughters, has been married for 34 years, and is CEO of a global leading beverage company (you go girl!).  However, when she came home one day 14 years ago just appointed as president of PepsiCo, her mother was not that impressed.

At the time, Nooyi was furious with her mother for not being happy for her in her newly appointed role.  Her mother felt that more importantly, she was a mother, a wife, and a daughter.  Nooyi strived to work as hard as she could to find the balance that her family needed, but learned the harsh reality quite fast.

Can Women Can Really Have It All?

“We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all,” stated Nooyi. “Every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother; in fact, many times during the day you have to make those decisions…if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms..the female biological clocks and career clocks are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict.”

Around the time women begin to really build their careers and rise to middle management, kids start to really need their mothers for their teenage years, husbands begin feel neglected, and parents start aging more and more. This is why many women are forced to make the decision- work or family.

However, where there is life, there is hope. Women’s iLab knows first hand that there are (rare, but real) women in business who have managed the work-life balance and feel truly satisfied that they are excelling in both.

Can We Build A Sustainable Solution ?

Women today often sacrifice their ambitions and dreams because of the reality of today’s typical business environment.  Unfortunately many companies still exist in which working hours are far too long, bosses and execs are not understanding, and/or there is no solution for a place or person to care for children when the mother cannot be there.  We must make a change in order for women to continue driving innovation even when family life takes priority.

A more sustainable work-life balance can be developed by building the community of women in business (and men who support women in business) who understand and will fight for resources and business regulations that allow women to manage the time balance. Women’s iLab will continue to bring awareness, advice, resources and networking opportunities to women so that we can leverage the support of one another in driving our industries forward while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.