A Successful Woman’s Chilling Realization: She Can Never Have It All

Sameera Ehteram
Even the most powerful women in the world can't have everything going their way.

A Successful Woman’s Chilling Realization: She Can Never Have It All


What Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo said during an interview to The Atlantic is a harsh reality that most of working women face globally, regardless how successful they are.

Fourteen years ago, when she learned of her promotion to the position of president and on the board of directors of her company, she rushed home to share the news with her mother only to have her excitement shattered by reality.

Before listening to her even though she mentioned that she had some good news to share, Nooyi’s mother asked her to go back and buy milk for the family. Why couldn’t her husband get it despite having gotten home much before her? He was tired. What of the house help? They were off for the day and her mother had forgotten to ask them. Dejected, she went out, bought the milk, and lamented to her mother when she returned home,"I had great news for you. I've just been told that I'm going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?"

She got the answer that she has been unable to forget even after all this time. In Indra’s own words, ‘She said to me, "let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house. You know I've never seen that crown."’

Nooyi believes a woman can never have it all. “We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all.”

She recounted how over the years she’s had to justify her priorities to her husband and live with her children thinking she’s been a bad mom.

Her story is sad and unfortunate but she’s not the only one. What is more frightening perhaps, is that this is not just a woman teaching at a public school or working in a factory or even the fields, this is an extremely accomplished woman running one of the world’s largest corporations.

“Successful women tend to work really long hours. Some men may feel like the woman is too busy and doesn’t have time for them. A man who wants to be taken care of by a woman won’t do well in this kind of relationship,” says Steve Nakamoto, author ofMen Are Like Fish: What Every Woman Needs to Know about Catching a Man.

It’s astonishing to think that despite all the advancements we have made, and in a time when men and women are more equal than before, society forces us to have a different of standards to live by. For several decades now, women have fought for equality in the workplace and have gained momentum and success but women still find themselves barricaded by stereotypes. Their gender-specific roles of mother, wife and daughter somehow never leave them. No matter how successful she is she still has to shoulder the burden of household chores as well as her work; needs to give more time to the children than her spouse and made to feel guilty if she can’t do it all.

They are challenged every step of the way. “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, "She doesn't have what it takes." They will say, "Women don't have what it takes,"saidClare Boothe Luce.

But as Chien-Shiung Wu, a physicist who helped discover one of the basic laws of physics and revolutionized the study of particle physics, an achievement that helped two of her male colleagues win the Nobel Prize said, “There is only one thing worse than coming home from the lab to a sink full of dirty dishes, and that is not going to the lab at all!”