By Etienne Fang
In 2011 I had my second child. During my maternity leave, I felt compelled to go into the office for meetings, follow up on projects and check emails. But after a five-month conversation with myself during my leave, I chose to quit my dream job in order to focus on my family.
Too often this discussion of “having it all” sounds so easy, but I knew from my own life — and from the women in my life — that things weren’t so simple. “Having it all” could mean different things to different people (and at different times) — not only in balancing work and family goals and responsibilities but in searching for a positive work/life balance in general
PART 1: MY COMMUNITY
So what does a researcher do when curious about something? I decided to interview forty of my female friends about what “having it all” meant to them. I wanted to open up a dialogue to encourage us all to think about what “having it all” means to women today, nearly forty years after the phrase was coined.
PART 2: AROUND THE WORLD
Upon reflecting on Part 1 of this project, I realized that the women in my community and I come from privileged positions — both afforded to us and earned by our own grit. I have begun an inquiry into what “having it all” means to women around the world, across a variety of cultures and circumstances and conditions. What does “having it all” look like in cultures different from our own? What are the challenges for women with unequal rights and opportunities? And what can we learn from their perspectives to inform our own definition of “having it all?”