Work-Life Balance: Can Female Feds “HAVE IT ALL”?

Some media elites are beating the drum over whether today’s working women “can have it all“? — as they put it. That is, achieving a successful work life as a career professional and a fulfilling home life as a mother/spouse.

Is mastering the socalled work-life balance too much to expect of women in the fast evolving high-tech workplace of the 21st century? One would think not.

Do female Feds have an easier time balancing work and family responsibilities compared to their counterparts in the private sector and state/local Government? Probably so.


(National Public Radio series on the work-life balance and related issues)

Why can’t female Feds have it all?

Can women working in Government “have it all”? The conventional perception appears to be that female Feds are well equipped to successfully juggle the work-life balance because of greater workplace flexibility and family-friendly policies. Women working in the private sector and state or local Government may not enjoy the same flexibility due to the nature of their jobs and change resistant management.

For example, some professionals at the state and local levels do not have jobs that allow for much work fllexibility — like school teachers and police officers. These job may currently not be conducive to telework.

Therefore, the assumption is that female Feds can in fact better juggle work and familly without dropping any balls — or at least not as many as others. But some influential media outlets apparently don’t think women are up to the challenges posed by the new and evolving modern workplace.

This sounds demeaning to me.

Nonetheless, some media critics staunchly claim that working women in general, and Washington women in particular, “still can’t have it all” — no matter what!

Really? Still? Why not?

The Atlantic fuels fire

A lengthy cover story in the current issue of The Atlantic — the 150 year-old magazine — sharply asks and answers the question at issue: can working women have it all? Their answer is a resounding NO, not until the workplace adapts to women’s point of view regarding career and lifestyle choices — at least according to some media elite.


The multi-page feature story, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All has generated attention from social media to mainstream media. The highly educated and accomplished author writes a first-person narrative based on her own experiences and observations. She concludes:

“If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we must…insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices…we may need to put a woman in the White House before we are able to change the conditions of the women working at Walmart.”

Can new Yahoo CEO have it all?

This topic is also trending because newly appointed Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, recently announced she’s pregnant. Mayer is a Silicon Valley superstar who just left an executive gig at Google to run Yahoo. Can she “have it all”?



(Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer: photo credit AFP/Getty Images)

National Journal slams Washington women

As if all this weren’t enough, the influential DC-based National Journal (sister publication of The Atlantic) ran its own cover story about why Washington women in particular can’t “have it all” either. http://nationaljournal.com/magazine/washington-s-women-we-still-face-discrimination-20120712?page=1

The article states that working women in our nation’s capital often face sex-based discrimination and other “high hurdles” for career advancement:

“Even after decades of progress, women in Washington say they have to work harder than men to get ahead. In their view, job opportunities are not equal…This is a tough town, and it’s even tougher for women.”

Recognizing workplace reality

Today’s evolving technology and shifting work-life priorities are improving the lives of working women and men across the country and around the world. More employers need to recognize the new workplace reality and adapt to it. According to many labor economists and workplace experts, productivity and job satisfaction increase when employers empower staff with more workplace flexibility. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/03/31/economics-workplace-flexibility

But change-resistant employers and officious managers must recognize the economics of workplace flexibility. More employers need to leverage the latest technology for a more mobile, family-friendly, and flexible workforce in the private and public sectors. This is a business imperative for the Federal Governemnt if it wants to recruit, hire and retain today’s younger generation of workers who are tech savvy. Moreover, one day when the virtual workplace is the norm, more women and men will be empowered to more easily achieve a successful work-life balance.

Working women and Superwoman

Today’s working women need not be Superwoman to achieve work-life equalibrium. Many open-minded employers, including the Federal Government, are liberating the workforce from the old-school rules and, in turn, realizing positive results.

There’s no hiding the fact that a high-tech digital/mobile workplace transformation is currently underway, albeit slowly. The new work-life paradigm shift should better enable women and men alike to make the most efficient and effective use of their time, while maximizing job productivity. This saves employers time and money, not to mention boosting employee morale and job satisfaction.

If that’s not a win-win situation, then I don’t know what is.


*** All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only. ***

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Henry Brown

IMO interesting blog posting on Cali and Jody blog on Rowe.com

Women and men who used to wonder how it could all work (or even if it could ever all work), and then find that it can – when the culture is reshaped to manage the work, not the people. As Lisa Belkin stated in one of her response articles, Why the Workplace Doesn’t Work for Parents, we’ve been shouting in the wilderness for years about a new paradigm that shakes all of this up.

Henry Brown

This saves employers time and money, not to mention boosting employee morale and job satisfaction. If that’s not a win-win, then I don’t know what is.

IMO may be a win-win but the perceived cost of loss of control insures that it will be a very long time prior to full implementation

David B. Grinberg

Good morning, Henry. First, I love Cali and Jody, it sounds like they’ve got it right. I’ll have to read their book. Thanks for pointing them out. Second, I agree with you about taking “a very long time prior to full implementation.” Nevertheless, it appears that’s where we are headed, even if it take years or decades to get there. Unfortunately, as you well know, any major change or transformation in a mammoth bureaucracy like the U.S. Government will be a time consuming, frustrating and pain-staking endeavor. But we will get there eventually and, when we do, it will be mutually beneficial to Government, public servants and society alike . Thanks again for chiming in, Henry.

David B. Grinberg


Pregnancy Protection

The New York Post, July 23, 2012


“A bill that would extend workplace protections to pregnant women is gaining steam in the House. The list of co-sponsors of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was introduced in May, broke the 100 mark earlier this month, with 103 representatives currently signed on. The bill would protect female employees with pregnancy-related work limitations, compelling employers to make reasonable accommodations and preventing them from firing pregnant women due to inhibited performance. Pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have risen by a third over the past decade, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families, which is lobbying for the bill’s passage.”

Fore more info on preganancy discrimination, check out:


David B. Grinberg

Female GovLoopers: What say you on this important topic? A woman’s perspective would be most appreciated. Don’t be shy…reply. Thanks.

David B. Grinberg

Wise words in Washington Post on challenges facing working women and whether they can “have it all.”


Women now often do society a triple service: They work, they bear children and they provide the key emotional bond. We ought to be figuring out how to help and celebrate them more. Our businesses, churches and communities should be bending over backward to give women better child care and generally making it easier for them to balance their exhausting roles. Government can help make this a priority.”