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Hettinger speaks on 'having it all'

Campus Correspondent

Published: Monday, February 4, 2013

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

last lecture

ZARRIN AHMED/The Daily Campus

Virginia Hettinger, an associate professor of political science gave a lecture as part of ‘Last Lecture’ series on the difficulty of being a woman and being both a professional and a mother.

Women still cannot “have it all,” according to Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department.

Virginia Hettinger, associate professor of political science, spoke at the “Last Lecture Series” on “Having It All: Do We Know ‘It’ When We See It?” based upon Slaughter’s article for the Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”
In this article Slaughter outlines her own experience as a woman in the upper echelon of government, and how she found it impossible to be both a mother and a top professional. Hettinger pointed out in her lecture that “having it all” as Slaughter outlines is something only upper class women are able to have in part to additional privileges and opportunities.

“Many of the women in this privileged class do not understand what it means to lack choices,” Hettinger said.

One thing Slaughter considers a part of “having it all” is a career. However, Hettinger said, “For millions of women a career doesn’t exist, it’s a job. Or maybe two or three.”

Because these women need to work in order to support themselves, they are denied the opportunity to make the choice they want; instead, it’s the choices that they need.

Hettinger outlined several causes for the lack of choices women have. Socio-economic and gender imbalances play a large part in creating these difficulties.

“We need to change the dialogue,” Hettinger said. “We need to have a fundamental shift in the definition of having it all. We need to focus on all of us men and women, rich and poor… we need to work harder to build an education system and economy that allows people to have choices.”

By talking about choice for both women and men, a dialogue can be opened that ultimately allows women to move from needing to wanting to make a choice.

Hettinger went on to comment how people’s ability to “have it all” is only possible due to the work others do in order to allow them to have choices. Hettinger mentions how Rosie O’Donnell, who arguably “has it all” as a successful mother and TV personality, has it only because she is able to hire people to assist her.

“It’s glib to think that someone in life can have it all,” Hettinger said at the conclusion of the lecture.  

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