Is it any surprise that American workers express higher levels of work-family conflict than workers in any of our European counterparts? Or that women’s labor-force participation has been overtaken? In 1990, the United States ranked sixth in female labor participation among 22 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is made up of most of the globe’s wealthier countries. By 2010, according to an economic research paper by Cornell researchers Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, released last month, we had fallen to 17th place , with about 30 percent of that decline a direct result of our failure to keep pace with other countries’ family-friendly work policies.
Still, I knew he was the one, or at least I thought he was. He had moved across the country for me. He was funny and spontaneous. He wore his heart on his sleeve. If I ever were to marry, I imagined it would be him.
In " Distant View of a Minaret ," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to deprive her." Just as her husband denies her an orgasm, the call to prayer interrupts his, and the man leaves. After washing up, she loses herself in prayer -- so much more satisfying that she can't wait until the next prayer -- and looks out onto the street from her balcony. She interrupts her reverie to make coffee dutifully for her husband to drink after his nap.
How did more than 160 million women go missing from Asia? The simple answer is sex selection -- typically, an ultrasound scan followed by an abortion if the fetus turns out to be female -- but beyond that, the reasons for a gap half the size of the U.S. population are not widely understood. And when I started researching a book on the topic, I didn't understand them myself. I thought I would focus on how gender discrimination has persisted as countries develop.
In the 12 years since Melinda Gates and her husband, Bill, created the Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropic organization, she has done a lot of traveling. A reserved woman who has long been wary of the public glare attached to the Gates name, she comes alive, her associates say, when she’s visiting the foundation’s projects in remote corners of the world. “You get her out in the field with a group of women, sitting on a mat or under a tree or in a hut, she is totally in her element, totally comfortable,” says Gary Darmstadt, director of family health at the foundation’s global health program. Visiting vaccine programs in sub-Saharan Africa, Gates would often ask women at remote clinics what else they needed. Very often, she says, they would speak urgently about birth control.
On Wednesday morning, as we readied the kids for school amidst a few of the usual complaints about not wanting to go, I saw a headline on the cover of The New York Times : Taliban Gun Down a Girl Who Spoke Up for Rights . The Taliban claimed that 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai “ignored their warnings, and she left them no choice.” They approached her school bus, asking for her by name, and shot her in the head for promoting girls’ education. After reading the article, I felt compelled to share Malala’s story with my children.
Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the “romantic market” in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options: increasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing). But this strange state of affairs also presents an opportunity: as the economy evolves, it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family—and to acknowledge the end of “traditional” marriage as society’s highest ideal. I n 2001, when I was 28, I broke up with my boyfriend. Allan and I had been together for three years, and there was no good reason to end things. He was (and remains) an exceptional person, intelligent, good-looking, loyal, kind. My friends, many of whom were married or in marriage-track relationships, were bewildered.
The Spicy Love Doctor was running late. A well-heeled crowd one recent Sunday afternoon had packed into the second-floor lounge of Beijing's Trends Building -- home to the publishing offices of several glossy magazines, including the Chinese editions of Cosmopolitan , Esquire , and Harper's Bazaar -- to hear Wu Di, a contributor to China's Cosmopolitan and author of an alluring new book, I Know Why You're Left . The poised, professional crowd, outfitted in black blazers, leather boots, and trendy thick-framed glasses, was composed mostly of women in their mid-20s to mid-30s -- prime Cosmo readers and all there waiting patiently to hear Wu, who typically charges $160 an hour for "private romance counseling," explain their surprising plight: being single women in a country with a startling excess of men.
Whether it's those lurking peak wedding months or the daily talk of royal nuptials, marriage is a subject we're hearing a lot about lately. Feelings about this trend seem to range from wild enthusiasm to mild resentment. Forgetting for a minute the adversity surrounding the institution of marriage and setting all ceremony aside, stripped down to its barest of bones, marriage is really just a long-term commitment to a serious intimate relationship. Regardless of one's feeling about marriage, the idea of a lasting romantic relationship is of much significance to most people.
In 2007, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, knew that he needed help. His social-network site was growing fast, but, at the age of twenty-three, he felt ill-equipped to run it. That December, he went to a Christmas party at the home of Dan Rosensweig, a Silicon Valley executive, and as he approached the house he saw someone who had been mentioned as a possible partner, Sheryl Sandberg, Google’s thirty-eight-year-old vice-president for global online sales and operations.
It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change. Phillip Toledano E ighteen months into my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph PRINCETON – When I wrote the cover article of the July/August issue of The Atlantic , entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” I expected a hostile reaction from many American career women of my generation and older, and positive reactions from women aged roughly 25-35. I expected that many men of that younger generation would also have strong reactions, given how many of them are trying to figure out how to be with their children, support their wives’ careers, and pursue their own plans. Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph I also expected to hear from business representatives about whether my proposed solutions – greater workplace flexibility, ending the culture of face-time and “time machismo,” and allowing parents who have been out of the workforce or working part-time to compete equally for top jobs once they re-enter – were feasible or utopian.
Over the past 30 years–first at Harvard Business School, where I was on the faculty for nearly two decades, and now, at Barnard College, where I serve as president–I have watched thousands of bright and talented young women start to plot the course of their lives. I have watched my friends’ and colleagues’ lives evolve in complicated and unpredictable ways. And I have juggled like mad, with three wonderful kids, a husband I adore, and jobs that leave me perched perpetually on the edge of insanity.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has emerged as a leading voice for gender equality since she delivered, in late 2010, a provocative TEDWomen address on why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top. In this interview—available here as both a video and an edited transcript—with McKinsey’s Joanna Barsh, Sandberg (an alumnus of McKinsey, the US Treasury Department, and Google) expands on issues from her new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Knopf, March 2013), and explains why women need to “lean in” to gain confidence, develop skills, and become more comfortable as leaders—herself included. The Quarterly : When were you first self-aware that you really were a leader? Sheryl Sandberg: I don’t easily identify as a leader. Looking back on my childhood, I thought of myself as a little bossy. I think as a boy, I would have thought I was a leader.
By HANNA ROSIN Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal Hanna Rosin and her three children, Jacob (left), Gideon and Noah (right) at their home in Washington, DC. The other day I was playing a game called "Kids on Stage" with my 2-year-old. I had to act out "tiger," so I got down on all fours and roared.