Unless you’ve lately returned from a retreat at a remote Cistercian abbey, if you’re interested at all in women’s issues you’ve probably read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent article in the Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”. The author eloquently tells how she left her dream job in the State Department as the first woman director of policy planning in order to return to her husband, her two adolescent sons, and her tenured professorship at Princeton University. The weekly commute to Washington proved impossible, and her family needed her.
Professor Slaughter’s article is well worth reading for its meditations on how difficult it can be to combine motherhood and a challenging career. Her conclusion is that work practices and work culture need to change. Unfortunately, her take-home points have little application to the life of a physician. She quotes from Republican political strategist Mary Matalin, who wrote, “Having control over your schedule is the only way that women who want to have a career and a family can make it work.”
That certainly leaves me out. If there’s one thing I don’t have as an anesthesiologist, it’s control over my schedule.