Can Women Have It All? Powerful Females Weigh In

Erin Callan

Erin Callan, former CFO of Lehman Brothers
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, Callan wrote about her regrets, and how focusing on her career came at the expense of friendships, a failed marriage and motherhood. “I missed having a child of my own,” she wrote. “I am 47 years old, and [second husband] Anthony and I have been trying in vitro fertilization for several years. We are still hoping.” She also noted, “Sometimes young women tell me they admire what I’ve done. As they see it, I worked hard for 20 years and can now spend the next 20 focused on other things. But that is not balance. I do not wish that for anyone.” Reaction from bloggers was swift, with the grindstone calling her essay "truly devastating."

Photo: Lehman Bros

While men in high places are rarely grilled about how they balance careers with diaper changes and housework, powerful women are used to being asked about “having it all.” Most recently, it was Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts who had to address the issue, telling London’s Sunday Times that she actually “can't do it all” and stressing that, for her, family always comes first. “We have a lot of women working here and I always tell them they are mothers first. Those children are their legacy and they have partners and that’s a big obligation,” she said, inspiring many tweets of approval and relief from other working moms. It was just the latest statement and subsequent chatter about the work-life balance fascination, thrown into extra-high relief ever since Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg called for women to “lean in” to their careers last year. Here’s what she and 12 other women in high places think of the matter — and what others wound up thinking about them. — Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff