Can we have it all? A Humanist Issue – Not a Gender Issue!


‘So I was raised to believe that championing women’s rights meant doing everything we could to get women to the top. And I still hope that I live long enough to see men and women equally represented at all levels of the work force. But I’ve come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work, and that we should entertain the idea that doing right by those we love will make all of us better at everything we do.’

I would go as far to say that Anne Marie Slaughter has inspired me through her TEDtalk just as much as Sheryl Sandberg in her [EPIC] speech on ‘Why We Have So Few Women Leaders’. Not only does Slaughter address the issues facing work-life balance & gender inequality, but she rightly acknowledges the importance of the role of family and how work-policy & societal norms have rendered the home as second-rate to the work place. Here are a few random thoughts I had whilst listening:

Coming from an Indian-background [full of cultural controversies], I find the dynamics of home decision-making extremely interesting. Anne Marie claims that in most cultural norms, Men are considered the primary breadwinners and Women, the caregivers. Ironically, in the same cultures, and more-so in developing countries, patriarchal family dynamics allow Men to be at the helm of decision making in the home. [I haven’t referenced this, however i’m sure you wouldn’t disagree!] This means that, although women are the primary care-givers, Men are in charge of family expenditure and therefore decisions on health, education and the futures of their children. Something doesn’t quite add up!

I also love the fact that Anne Marie recognises the pressures on Men to be the breadwinners and the increasing ability of Women to choose their positions at home and at work. It’s like the reverse of Caitlin Moran’s checklist on inequality & sexism, number one of which is, ‘Are the men worrying about this?’. Instead, Women are increasingly being championed when they succeed in either realms of family or work, whilst Men are reduced to one option of what it means to be a Man.

Lastly, I believe the over-arching issue at play is the responsibility of businesses in the wider society and as the creators of work-culture. Are businesses accountable to their employees and therefore the wider society? Or are they only answerable to their shareholders? As a believer in corporate responsibility and social mobility, I think that businesses have a responsibility to ALL of these agents, equally. As employers of individuals that strive to balance their lives, businesses should champion the flexible strategies that allow both Men and Women to excel together in both work and home. At the same time, these qualities should be valued by shareholders. This is important for the business, for employees and for future generations.

As a young women who is extremely far from making these decisions, I am already thinking about the issues that may effect myself and my future family/career. It’s more scary that I am considering these issues than the fact that these issues exist in the first place! I believe this is a sure sign that the paradigm we currently live in needs to shift away from the militant work-culture and towards a healthier [and evidently more successful] flexible norm.

Over & Out.

There ain’t no rest for the wicked: Our attitudes towards sleep

While sharing this TedTalk, I must confess that I had watched it at 2am, on a work night, when I should have been catching some z’s.

My relationship with sleep has always been a bit of a love and hate situation. I love sleeping but hate that point of going to sleep. My bed loves to keep me warm and I hate to get out of it. My main issue with spending those 8 hours rejuvenating my brain, is that I have been made to believe that I am wasting time.

Think about the number of things the average person does on a daily basis. We work; we eat; we travel; we pick up the kids; we shop; we love; we cry; we rest.

Now think about the things that the average person also wants to do. Explore our passions; make our hobbies into a side business; Read that book your friend let you borrow 3 months ago; go to the gym for more than 45 minutes; love a bit more; cry a bit more; all at the same time.

Both of these sets of things are on the checklist of daily life in order of their priority and therefore, rarely completely ticked off. We don’t have time to pursue those extra things that we want to do, while maintaining the quality of the things we are obliged to do. In some cases, we are actually expected to do all of these activities. All my life i’ve been asked ‘so what else do you do’. There are simply not enough hours in the day.

So how do we tackle this? Many of us have come to the conclusion that ‘something has got to give’. It is highly interesting that the activity that ends up being sacrificed is sleep; not work, that takes up the largest proportion of our day, but the most important cognitive function.

The idealist inside me wishes that this wasn’t the case. It wishes that the ‘daily grind’ would step down a gear and allow us to live life at a less stressful pace, where we are allowed to give time to other things that are important to us such as our passions and sleep. It also hopes that we realise that we have spent so much time ‘economising’ our time, that the actual value of time has been lost. It is a shame and I am hoping that I will start to appreciate the science of sleep a bit more.

Over and Out.