The essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”, written by Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, who also served as the State Department’s former Director of Policy Planning, provoked a national conversation over a diverse range of issues, from gender equality to how modern technology impacts the workplace. An unfortunate assumption of the article, however, was that “having it all” means working your body to the bone, whether at home or at the office–or both. Boston University professor Ellen Shell says Americans should be bolder in their solutions for being overworked–namely, having the courage to work less.
What’s the Big Idea?
Since the 1970s, America’s annual working hours have been steadily increasing. At the same time, middle-class wages have stagnated or declined. Despite this, Americans work more hours than any other Western nation, says Shell, and this is bad for the economy and bad for our mental and physical well-being. “…we must push hard against our current practice of celebrating overwork and treat it as the scam it has become,” she says, referring to how the wages of the upper-class have boomed in the last decade. Will we ever have the courage to mandate that work end at the end of the workday?