MWT Controversy 2 – Women

Anne-Marie Slaughter served as the Director of Policy Planning for the US Department of State from 2009-2011, and was the first woman to hold that position. TED Bio

Prior to her government service, Slaughter was the dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002-2009 and the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School from 1994-2002.

At the conclusion of her two-year public service leave as Director of Policy Planning, Slaughter returned to Princeton University and later wrote, “I hurried home as fast as I could.”

“In a 2012 article for the Atlantic that became the magazine’s most-read ever, Slaughter dismantles the recently-popularized notion that women who fail to “have it all” lack the ambition to do so. Instead, she argues that the way most top jobs are structured, including the expectations of workers regardless of gender, uphold slavish devotion to work above family life or other passions…It is unacceptable, she argues, that a desire to spend time with one’s family should be cause for shame.”

The article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” attracted a barrage of media attention and debate from around the world. Describing the reactions of those who questioned her on her decision to leave government Anne-Marie writes,

“…the underlying assumption that my choice was somehow sad or unfortunate, was irksome enough. But it was the second set of reactions—those implying that my parenting and/or my commitment to my profession were somehow substandard—that triggered a blind fury.” -Anne-Marie Slaughter

Thoughts & Questions for Discussion:
• Does gender inequality still exist in America today?
• Are women forced to choose between career and family?
• Do men hold women back – or women themselves?
• Sheryl Sandberg argues that women need to “Lean In”.
• Is “leaning back” instinctive for women? Sheryl at TED
• Is household division of labor at the center of gender inequality?
• What roles did your parent(s) play in your childhood home?
• Are gender scripts changing?
• Why does so much of this debate focus solely on women with a “career”?

[Aside: A media-hyped misconception on housework & sex? Science Debates]

More Resources & Ideas:
Full video transcript at
Time Magazine – 9 Things You didn’t know about swearing
Anne-Marie Slaughter Princeton Bio
Why we have too few women leaders – Sheryl Sandberg at
New data on the rise of women – Hanna Rosin at
Our century’s greatest injustice – Sheryl WuDunn at
A more global perspective – The Girl Effect

Keep the conversation going! Please leave additional thoughts and comments below.

7 Comments on “MWT Controversy 2 – Women

  1. Thanks to you all for a great discussion today! I so enjoy when you make me stop and really think, and that’s exactly what happened as I was driving home…

    When I described my experience in basic training as a female in an all female platoon, Pam asked why I felt we were less effective and functioned less cohesively. Considering that, I realized that in the end, we were able to function equally as well as a team as the all male platoons, but it appeared to take us a lot longer to get there – in everything from marching in unison to developing loyalty and unity to the whole.

    This leaves me wondering, if because men and women are fundamentally biologically different (as several of you pointed out) – perhaps it is the process used in basic training (originally designed for men) that works less effectively on women. The basic premise of basic training is to strip away the self and rebuild the group as one entity. This seems to work quite well for men. But perhaps for women there is a more effective method. Any thoughts?

    • Civilian teams ( I have worked with only civilians, not military) teams that take longer to become interdependent and fully performing often are the most effective: They take time to go through the essential team-building stages , especially the one dealing with conflict, and iron out differences at the “get go.”


  2. When I went through basic training, it was made clear that the intent was to eliminate any critical thinking so that all orders would be obeyed without question. The theory was that this was necessary in combat. I’m not sure this was true, especially since no other methods were tried. I know that on some of us the elimination of critical thinking did not work.

    • Way back when our Marines yelled Gung Ho [Pull Together], I learned that I could tell any leader anything, as long as I put a SIR in front and a SIR in back of it. I learned I could take anything up my chain of command to our President, when I believed I was right. Those concepts and the mental discipline I learned served me well when I needed them. I also learned I was philosophically suited to be a Corpsman, instead of a Marine. I am still deaf in one ear. I should not have been there, but I am grateful.

  3. Women in our military? Yes, simply because there are not enough qualified men volunteers. Then, the Women in combat question. A simple answer is yes, for those that aspire to the ranks of those that order other troops into combat. They simply have to know by experience, what they are ordering their lower ranks to do. Will combined troops be as effective, or more effective? Simple answer again, do enough RDT&E to determine how effective they are, just like any other weapon system. That is Research, Development, Test and Evaluation. Our military is only too familiar with the “Fly before Buy” concepts. The civilian side of government should learn from our military side, and then vice versa.

  4. Our cultures are ego based, in both women and men. The differences in men and women sports were enlightening. Egos are the only real problem, with both men and women. The worst of egos blame everything, no matter what, while the best of spiritual beings forgive everything, no matter what. I realized that we are all equal spiritual beings in our core during my own awakening experiences. I now realize that when we all come to realize that we are equal spiritually, peace will reign. That is because, then there is no longer any need for ego power struggles. When we realize that we are equal spiritually, then there is no longer any need to prove that we, or our concepts, are superior. I confirmed that the distinctions of sex, culture, country, religion, etc just melted away the longer I did the necessary work in our spiritual psychology program. I know how hard it is going to be to realize this vision, but we are on the way.

  5. In Monday, June 23, 2014, issue of Washington Post , you’ll find three !! important articles pertaining to women’s issues and a supplement:

    1) “Politicians Shifting Focus to Family Issues”( and In addition to politicians paying attention, so is the White House: “A high-profile White House “working families” summit Mnday will focus on issues such as child care, paid family leave and equal pay between men and women.

    2) Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer’s affirmation of affirmative action on Sunday’s “This Week” (

    3)”Review Finds Veteran Affairs” is falling short on female medical issues” (Associated Press): No gynocologists at too many hospitals; delinquent return of mammograph results in required amount of time, etc.

    The independent supplement included is entitled: ” Empowering Women”: I’ll try to remember to bring articles and supplement on Thursday. In meantime, pleasant leisure reading. 🙂