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Is it sexist to ask career women about their kids?

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As more women work their way up the corporate ladder, or start businesses themselves, some are questioning whether it’s ever appropriate to ask high-powered females about motherhood and their family lives.

Recently at the Dreamforce Women’s Innovation Panel in San Francisco, CBS Morning anchor Gayle King caught some heat for focusing much of the discussion with Honest Company CEO Jessica Alba and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on their experiences raising kids.

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Journalists like Lauren Hockenson from The Next Web noted that there was much less talk about their businesses or their career goals. In fact, Hockenson highlighted a particularly odd question King directed at Wojcicki:

“Susan, you know something about babies,” King said during the panel. “This is what I love about Susan: she has five children.”

Wojcicki smiled, and confirmed King’s statement. When pressed, Wojcicki said that her eldest is turning 16, while her youngest is 8 months.

“By the same husband?” King inquired.

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15 minutes into the panel, and Gayle King had asked one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley if all of her children have the same father.

As if that question wasn’t strange enough, Hockenson points out that stereotypical “girl talk” ensued on the panel, when it was supposed to focus on women in tech.

“Talks about lipgloss, diapers and anti-aging serum were only sometimes punctuated by unanswerable, borderline-offensive questions designed to put Wojcicki in particular on the spot,” Hockenson wrote.

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Alba was asked whether she began her company because her days in Hollywood are numbered. King didn’t ask the question as bluntly, but it was certainly implied when she uttered, “People seem to think there’s a beginning and an end to a Hollywood career. Were you thinking ahead about that?”

Although I agree with Hockenson that some of King’s questions were outrageously out of touch (who the hell asks whether someone conceived all her kids by the same father), there seems to be growing backlash against asking successful career women about their family lives, and I happen to disagree with the critics.

As with anything in life, it’s important to strike a delicate balance in inquiring about a woman’s success and family obligations. Unfortunately, people like King have failed to do the work necessary to strike that very balance. However, asking how female CEOs manage to be extraordinary professionals who also take on the challenges of being mothers is important to women like me.

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Obviously when a family is incredibly wealthy, they have the resources necessary to hire help. But what if a woman is an aspiring entrepreneur who also wants to start a family? Also, there’s a great deal of pressure on all women to have kids at some point, and frank discussions about how difficult it is to “have it all” rarely take place.

I’ve been told by multiple people that I shouldn’t over-analyze the impact of children on my career. But I know the “everything will work itself out” mentality isn’t realistic when it comes to the competitive line of work I’m proud to be a part of. I want honesty rather than patronizing crap about how I’d be smart enough to figure it out. I can’t even figure out how to cook a simple meal after a long day of work.

Of course I want the bulk of the discussion to revolve around how these impressive women developed their businesses and what types of obstacles they conquered to get to where they are today in their careers. I don’t care who they’re married to, whether they’ve been divorced, or what kind of lip gloss they wear. But the reality is that women face challenges at work and at home that men don’t necessarily have to think about. Addressing those unique challenges is vital.

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As a career women with multiple jobs and a six-day work week, I want to know whether or not I can juggle a family. I want to have a family, but sometimes I get discouraged about my own ability to make it happen. I want to know how other women do it.

Those who happen to be mothers and successful career women inspire me. We don’t need to shy away from the fact that they’re moms. In fact, we should celebrate the heavy load of work they have to deal with in every aspect of their lives.

Gayle King did a pretty terrible job in striking a balance, but I do believe questions about motherhood could be beneficial in this exciting age of female independence.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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WATCH LIVE: Trump to address the nation after mass shootings leave 29 dead

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US President Donald Trump will address the nation on Monday after two shootings left 29 people dead and sparked accusations that his rhetoric was part of the problem.

The rampages turned innocent snippets of everyday life into nightmares of bloodshed: 20 people were shot dead while shopping at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday morning, and nine more outside a bar in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio just 13 hours later.

Trump will again find himself in the role of consoler-in-chief after a tragedy -- which he has struggled with in the past -- when he speaks at 10:00 am (1400 GMT).

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Ana Kasparian's #NoFilter

Trump to address nation after US shootings leave 29 dead

Published

on

US President Donald Trump will address the nation on Monday after two shootings left 29 people dead and sparked accusations that his rhetoric was part of the problem.

The rampages turned innocent snippets of everyday life into nightmares of bloodshed: 20 people were shot dead while shopping at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Saturday morning, and nine more outside a bar in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio just 13 hours later.

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Julián Castro destroys NRA’s ‘good guy with a gun’ claim: Armed Texans ‘didn’t keep those people safe’ in El Paso

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