Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

Guest Post by SK

I found Indra Nooyi’s recent interview disappointing,to say the least. Here’s the link  – Why PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi Can’t Have It All

Nooyi’s conversation with her mother:

“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?” And 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.”

My comment: Agreed. But shouldn’t Nooyi’s husband too held to the same standard. He may be a CEO or have some other successful career, but when he comes home, shouldn’t he be a husband, father, son, son-in-law first? This is so so sad. Her daughter accomplished a great deal against great odds. The mother does not acknowledge this. She responds by insisting her daughter adhere strictly to gender stereotypes. She demands her to be a “mother and daughter first” while Nooyi’s husband doesn’t have to be a “father and son first”.

Nooyi on raising her daughters:

“And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure.”

My comment: Agreed, when we have children, it is our duty to be good parents,involved parents. And when we haven’t been as involved as we like, then the blame and guilt rests with both parents. Again why is the guilt only hers? He attends an important meeting and misses the kids’ performance, that’s understandable, but not when she does it? Actually if her husband shared in the parenting duties, they both would have nothing to feel guilty about. When something urgent comes up at work and one of us can’t keep up an appointment at school, my husband and I covered for each other numerous times. We always made sure one of us is there for the kids at a performance, and preferably both. It is possible for both parents to work and be involved with their kids – but only if both parents pitch in for parenting.

Nooyi on Parent Teacher Coffee meetings:

“Every Wednesday morning they had class coffee with the mothers. Class coffee for a working woman—how is it going to work? How am I going to take off 9 o’clock on Wednesday mornings? So I missed most class coffees. My daughter would come home and she would list off all the mothers that were there and say, “You were not there, mom.”

My comment: This is so outdated! They call these Parent Teacher coffee mornings. Either father or mother or another caregiver (grandma/grandpa) can go. My husband and I have taken turns attending these since my son was in pre-K. Now my
older one is 15, that’s 12 years of meetings, at least 4 per year, times 2 for both kids.
There are lots of dads at these meetings. Whichever parent is available will make it. We also had some families with gay parents. What are you going to say to them?

Sorry this is for moms only. You are a guy so you can’t attend? What planet is Nooyi living on? She’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 2014 but living in the middle ages?

Nooyi calls herself “bad mother” to her daughter:

“The first few times I would die with guilt. But I developed coping mechanisms.

I called the school and I said, “give me a list of mothers that are not there.” So when she came home in the evening she said, “You were not there, you were not there.”And I said, “ah ha, Mrs. Redd wasn’t there, Mrs. So and So wasn’t there. So I’m not the only bad mother.”

My comment: Again, where’s dad? Is he even in the picture? Oh wait! He’s busy attending an important meeting, so yes we fully understand why he can’t make the coffee morning. So Nooyi is a ‘bad mother’ but he’s not a ‘bad father’? So this
is what a woman who could be a fantastic role model to young girls teaches her daughter? That not being able to make a Coffee morning makes her a ‘bad mother’?

I’ve always admired Indra Nooyi for her business skills and her leadership and how she got there despite the odds against her. Perhaps, this is why I found her responses so disheartening. If educated, highly successful women uphold such regressive ideas, what hope is there for those less privileged?


73 thoughts on “Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

    This is the stark reality of working woman who started working in early 80s . If they wanted a career then they were supposed to run it parallel to their family life { which meant taking care of home , husband , family and kids } . None was bothered about the success she achieved in her office , all that mattered was whether she was good cook at home and whether when her husband and she came back she prepared a hot cup of tea or not .
    This has happened to MOST career woman whether they acknowledge it or not .
    Woman who are not working leave alone having a career always were after such working woman / career woman because they put in a challenge , they made them insecure because they were more competent .
    Non working woman divided work and wanted husbands to share work at home as well because for them this meant equality , working woman were proving that they were not only equals but also economically independent . BUT this came at a price and as Nooyi said in her interview she was creating a support system within family and her staff
    55 years back when my mother started working in lucknow university as a lecturer , after marriage had to go to her college in a cycle rickshaw which used to be covered , come back in evening and cook food because her elder non working sister in law would not do it again in evening . We came to delhi and she was the one who went for admissions of her children , she would rust back from delhi university in an auto to pick her kids up from school bus stop . our father used to help her a lot but it was still supposed to be her duty to look after her children , our failures were her faliures , guest to our homes were her guest , she was supposed to take leave for them , her mother-in-law will not eat food cooked by servant , so it was her duty to cook and on three days when she was not supposed to cook my father would cook for his mother [ this was the cooperation that my mother still remembers at 76 and believes had her husband not cooperated it would have been difficult }

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed that she is explaining what was stark reality. But she could have added the current trend, wherein many husbands are pitching in to fulfil parental duty. Expressing this, might have made her past situation much more understandable.
      Btb, wish all Indian fathers read this write up and the comments posted !!


      • Always discussing abt man , father , their role is the root cause of woman being dependent on them . For a change put them aside and read the interview which is a working career womans perspective of her achievements . It simple to say what she should have said , rather then applauding what she achieved in the circumstances she was in


    • The point of the post is neither to deny Nooyi’s success nor to deny stark reality. The post is about the complete absence of any mention of a father’s role in parenting. The one-sidedness of mommy guilt. It is interesting that this point does not come up even once in the entire interview. The stark reality that you mention – is it not rational to question it? Why are things this unbalanced and unfair? And shouldn’t that automatically lead to a discussion of the role of dads? That’s what the post is referring to.


      • I sometimes wonder why people are always wanting to discuss abt husband , father etc when a career woman want to discuss abt herself . Nooyi wanted to discuss herself , her achievements , her problems . For her it was She who matters not what role her father played or husband played . Her interview is not abt reforms of society or how to bring balance , its abt woman , their sucess , and the price at which the sucess comes.
        Its redundant to discuss role of man in our life , society with every post


  2. Some of us do not have a choice as to staying home or working and try to be our “best” not matter what. I was appalled by her comments. Is motherhood black and white? Is that how you make business decisions? Dichotomous thinking? I won’t invest in Pepsi. Coffee making = right. Pepsi peddling = wrong yet I do it anyway? Why tell your child you are a “bad” mother? Isn’t that abusive? I am choosing my job over you? I was perplexed and disappointed by her remarks but happy in my decision as a working mother (albeit in the West) to refuse to buy soda for my children. Maybe her childhood and social conditioning is too deep-rooted for her to overcome, and that is sad. By the way, I read your blog regularly. It is inspiring to see what women across the globe endure and thwarts any pity party I may have for myself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


  3. Gosh, why dissect an interview for Godsake, the interviewer was asking her the questions, not her HUSBAND. Why would she talk on behalf of her husband, she was giving her perspective. It was about how she coped being a mother. How did she deal with the guilt, and I am so glad that she came out as a normal human, and made us feel that we are not alone in this.

    And the most ridiculous part, why even compare her with yourself SK. This ranting post was so unnecessary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ranting might be misdirected but I don’t think it was unnecessary. According to me, the interview was unnecessary. Reporters have always directed this famous ‘Managing both work and home’ questions to successful women. It gets really frustrating after a while. I agree that many successful women might have faced the challenges of overcoming gender stereotypes to get to the position they are now. But once in a while, it would be nice to hear the other side of the story too. Stories about successful career men juggling work and home. We are living in a society where such male role models are desperately in shortage.


        • No I am not ‘looking’ for it in a woman’s interview. Instead, I wish that I get to see men’s interviews on similar topics. This interview was wholly about Indra Nooyi and her struggles and achievements. It would be irrelevant for the interviewer to go into details regarding her husband’s role. I am not denying that. But the absolute scarcity of successful career men’s interviews on ‘juggling work and home’ topics absolutely baffles me.


    • Let’s be fair here. I do not think the author is comparing her career achievements to Nooyi’s. She is referring to the several thousands of working couples who share parenting duties. It is okay to acknowledge Nooyi’s career achievements (which the poster does) while simultaneously question her understanding of gender stereotypes. Achievements do not make people immune to succumbing to stereotypes.


      • In few lines can you really judge her understanding of gender stereotype? Was the question about gender stereotype? I don’t think so.

        If the author here is referring to the several thousands of working couples who share parenting duties, Indra Nooyi’s interview was about the mother’s guilt every women has felt at some point of time.

        What the author is doing here is making assumptions and comparisons.


  4. even today some times my sister who is non working grudges that when she was small , teenager etc my mother used to leave us alone locked in the house if were sick as she could not take leave. according to my sister my mother was not a very good mother because she was not their with her sick child . what my sister does not understand ” being economically independent ” comes at an price


      • Fem this comment was in continuation to my first comment , and I don’t think its always neccessary to discuss the role of father or man . For a change we can just put them aside like Nooyi and discuss abt us , our success , our problems and so on so forth . Always bent upon discussing man , puts achievements of woman in background . I appreciate what my mother achieved , my sister has a problem as said above . But why should we talk abt our father when we talk about our mother , how come its always so necessary


        • Because if the father was available to the sick child when the mother was not available, she would not have the grudge against her mother. A child is both parents equal responsibility. If father and mother were equally involved in taking care of the kid it would not have mattered who stayed with the sick kid, because both would be capable of taking care of the kid. The parents can decide on who would stay back depending who had more important work (meetings, project submission, audit etc..) at office that day or more leaves available. If that happened why would the child blame her mother. If she doesn’t have same grudge against her father for not staying back when she was sick (she was locked in, so father didn’t stay back), it means she believes mother’s job/career is not important as father’s or a child is only other’s responsibility, father’s role end with sperm donation ( I wouldn’t say providing because in this this case mother also was earning ).
          When talking about a family, how can we leave the father out ? Husband and wife are partners.. Once married, a man/woman can be “independent” only “depending” on how the spouse “shares the responsibility”.


        • seena
          lets us leave it to the wife and in this nooyi to chose to discuss or not to discuss the role her husband played or did not play in parenting . If she chose to ignore why should woman discuss that . She did not think IT WAS WORTH IT TO DISCUSS or may be it never mattered for her or may be she had discussed it before get married with her husband
          Woman as brilliant and out going as her faced so many problems and YET she reached at top and she is only intrested to discuss her success her problems .


        • The role of the father needs to be discussed when we are talking about children having resentment. If we don’t, then we are actually back to square one where we will continue asking whether ‘women can have it all’. That question is actually rather irrelevant until we also bring in the men and realise that neither women, nor men can have it all but if both partners pull together a little, everyone can adjust a bit and have most of it. That’s why it is very important to include men in these discussions. Feminism is not an old girls’ club.


      • Fem
        @That’s why it is very important to include men in these discussions. Feminism is not an old girls’ club.

        With so many changes from generations to generations why should the definition of FEMINISM remain the same or interpreted in the same way .
        For many of us who have broken myths about work, domestic work and all that once was called as man territory have not done it to prove that we are equal to man .

        People like me believe that WE ARE BORN EQUALS and we dont need to prove this to anyone .

        We dont go by the RULE BOOK and there fore we also dont go by any SET DEFINITION of FEMINISM .
        On the contrary I dont even want to be called a feminist because WHAT I DO , WHAT I WANT TO DO is my life and I DONT DO IT BECAUSE ANY MAN HAS DONE IT . I do because I love to do

        Why should in every discussion we need to make MAN feel that they are so important that without them the life of a woman is not complete . Why should all the discussions on WOMAN should also have man as a part of it .

        How many times on discussion panel do you see man discussing woman as source of their problems .
        Why do we always have to put man on a pedastal

        Feminism is not to keep going in circles on the contrary its more about coming out of that circle , discuss about your own achievements , about your own success and also about how difficult was it to achieve this success .

        And Feminism is a feeling to be born as equal and not to prove that we are eqauls .

        Marriage is based on compassion and love and people have options to walk out of marriage if they cant continue but it needs guts to live all by yourself without being financially dependent and its also important that we understand that if a married woman who is at the helm of her career decides to talk about her self and ignore her husband then may be she does not really care abt him or she loves him too much to even bother what he does or not .

        A child may have a grudge against a parent for reasons but its not necessary that a child may have grudge against one parent because of other parent .


        • That’s just an utopian dream, I am sorry to say. Men form 50% of the population and as such any social problem, which is what gender discrimination is, needs to involve them. It’s one thing to celebrate Nooyi as a woman who has achieved something, but her mommy guilt cannot be addressed without bringing in the contribution of her partner, the other person who shared her parental duties (or ought to have).


        • Rachana, now isn’t that presumptuous to think that she didn’t care or loved him too much to mention his role in parenting their children. When you say marriage or parenting it is like a partnership. She doesn’t or shouldn’t have to speak FOR him but the lack of mention of his contributions towards parenting makes us think if it was a traditional patriarchal setup at her home. It may or may not be. But she doesn’t mention it.
          I agree that since the interview is about Nooyi, talking about her husband isn’t relevant; but in parenting, it becomes relevant. She clearly says that her daughter was unhappy she couldn’t go to the parent teacher meetings. So now the question is would the daughter be still unhappy if her father attended it?


  5. I think you should take Nooyi’s comments in the light of her personal experience and specific circumstances. Disappointing or not, I admire her ability to talk about this. She is not doctoring what she thought or felt or experienced. This is her truth. We can learn from it and choose to marry men who prioritize their family just as much as we do. We can make the choice not to let guilt get into the picture and to hold the men in our lives with the same standards. And we can raise our boys to grow into the kind of men who feel comfortable in a group of mothers! at least, that’s what’s on my agenda

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. She was on a panel on work-life balance, and I’m glad she said that women can’t have it all. Means something coming from a woman who clearly looked liked she actually did have it all.
      No one can ‘have it all’- man or woman, but it’s usually more women who are expected to/expect this for themselves. And that leads to guilt, which Nooyi admitted feeling. Stop expecting to ‘have it all’- was my main takeaway.


  6. I don’t know if I am the odd one here or it is the norm with dad nowadays but all the things she mentions are the ones which dads also have to deal with. In the past 6 years, my career has taken a back seat for the sake of raising our daughters. As a parent there is so much to do. Things which I used to be sure that I could accomplish in a week, putting some all nighters in my home office, now take literally years to get done. Those parent teacher meetings, those ice cream stops after the school mean also for me that I have to break my concentration mid day or sneak out of an important meeting. The demands of taking care of them means passing many opportunities of attending and speaking to great conferences for me as well. I am not sure why is this a woman specific problem only.


    • I think this is because YOU are active in child raising and hence take part of the career disadvantages that go with it. It’s called a balanced life. The point we are making is that most women don’t have husbands like you, hence it is a woman-specific problem. For most women, their husbands are not active participants in their home life. I actually know women who had to leave their dinners to change their kids’ diaper while her husband wouldn’t budge from his place because ‘he had put in a long day at work’. The responsibility for the kid’s education is all hers. The father does not teach her or sit with her to discuss her studies. This is a far more normal scenario than the one you outlined.


      • My African neighbour, father of 6 kids, was explaining to me only yesterday that although he does all he can to help, his wife keeps scolding him because he doesn’t do things in the proper way. Open any western magazine and you’ll see loads of similar comments from dotting dad. I’ve seen it so many times, the women ranting against men and meanwhile not allowing men to take care of the kids/home… If you want your partner to change diapers/clean the kitchen then learn to shut your mouth when he is actually doing the job 😉


  7. Thank you for bringing up this article. I’ve been so upset with it doing the rounds of the internet for all the wrong reasons!

    People post it on FB with comments like” So true! Women can’t have it all” etc.

    They don’t seem to get that NO ONE can have it “all” if by ALL they define being a good parent to mean spend all your time with your kids and ALSO be a achiever at work and spend all your time in the office. not to mention your social obligations as a friend, and being there for your parents and family…. the list goes on doesn’t it?

    This is true for men or women. But with men, somehow, it is okay for them to NOT spend time home with the kids, somehow we are socially conditioned to not resent our dads for working late or going away on business trips while we judge the moms who have to do the same, even the moms themselves, I mean… look at the amount of mommy-guilt Nooyi is suffering from.

    And her mother who wants her to go out and get friggin MILK after 10pm even when there are numerous number of hired help… that’s ridiculous! And she says that the HUSBAND would be tired, which is why she didn’t ask him. Why would Nooyi not be tired as well?!! God! That mother is super annoying!

    Attending parent-teacher conferences…. I don’t know how it works where she lives, but here, it is a PARENT-teacher thing. They don’t have coffee-mornings EVERY WEDNESDAY (!! who has the time??!) for just moms cos a majority of the moms are working, and when they do have Mother’s Day or Father’s Day celebrations, both parents take time off work if possible to attend. Cos being a dad is more than just providing the sperm.

    Kids, if they try and give you emotional blackmail, is again, cos of social conditioning where the kids are made to believe they are being deprived of a mother’s love simply cos she’s not sitting at home and attending to their every back and call.

    The whole “Having it all” concept itself is flawed. Cos really, you want too much.


    • One of my brilliant student told me that she will not work after getting married because family is important and because she feels she missed so much because her mother was working and was not there for her for many things. She conveniently left out if her father was working and how much of a satellite he was. On my bringing up this double standard in her thinking her response was feminism looks good on university campuses but actual society does not work this way.


      • she should be free to do as she chooses of course, but her reasoning is wrong. Social conditioning, that’s what it is.
        My mom stopped working after she got married and moved to Dubai and was a stay-at-home mom throughout my childhood. I really wish she’d just gone out and worked or found her passion earlier on.

        She discovered yoga only recently, at the age of 56, and since then, she’s gone on to do her MSc in Yoga and become a fully certified practitioner.

        I’d have loved for her to have done this years ago, it would have benefited everyone.


        • I don’t think that “she should be free to do as she chooses of course” because the husband may not wish to be the sole breadwinner of the family !


        • of course. When i said ” free to do as she wants to” it is within her limitations obviously.

          I’d love to take a break from work and just travel for 6 months. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to do that. I’m “free to” of course, but then I’d have to choose accordingly.

          Like they say, with freedom also comes responsibility.


        • Some women prefer to work outside the home during daytime, and some women prefer to stay at home, and none of them should be judged. I think you should respect the choice of your mother – even if if it is not your own choice.


  8. Nooyi is almost 60, so in many cases she is talking about things that happened several years ago, which is why her views seem so outdated.
    Your first point was about her mom telling her she was a daughter, wife etc first in the house– it is an outdated concept–but it’s her mothers point of view and i assume her mother is an old gen indian. I’m not sure any level of progress can change the mindset of someone of that generation.
    Also she doesn’t really go into details about her husband’s feelings or priorities. For all you know, he might have helped actively. Her feeling of guilt, might just be a throwback on how that generation viewed working mothers–they felt working mothers neglected their children–and she might have felt that she was not doing enough.
    The women of Nooyi’s generation had it tough. But i think they have paved a way for the women of this generation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While Nooyi and her mother are from an earlier generation, the attitudes that Nooyi espoused in her interview are still alive and kicking today, and they don’t seem to be fading away to any significant degree. If you look in the archives of this blog, you’ll find many example of educated, employed young women who just take it for granted that they’ll be responsible for the entire running of the household with minimal help from anyone else. That anecdote about Nooyi’s mother sending her out for milk at 10 PM could easily happen today, with a 45-year-old mother/mil and a 25-year old daughter/dil.


    • This is exactly the way I felt on reading the interview too. Im not on board with the thinking that the lack of mention of the father MUST mean he was absent or had less participation. Interviewers can direct an interview in a particular direction with tailored questions or Ms Nooyi may have chosen to explain things only from her perspective. I dont think its fair to make broad assumptions and generalizations on Nooyis family dynamics based on snippets from a couple of interviews. Infact in another interview she gave, the message was this “As a wife, she truly appreciates her husband, Mr. Raj K. Nooyi – a Management Consultant, who has been there for her like a pillar, a friend she can always turn to in times of need and when she needs to talk to someone –

      Also in a complicated way I get the Moms comment on “you being a wife, daughter, mother etc etc at home”. I dont agree with it , but I get where she is coming from. We all know of instances where our parents (however progressive and supportive they might be) have said something thats sexist or regressive when they are just plain upset with us. I dont know what the context was or if there was a build up to her mothers outburst. Again, it was not right but Im guessing happens in many/all families.

      What we should strive for is that with each passing generation, we bring down this negativism and sterotyping. Im optimistic that Nooyis family is on that path.


  9. Thank you for writing this! I also found Nooyi’s interview very disappointing.

    I kept wanting to think that maybe this was her commenting on how gendered expectations from her mum or the school created unnecessary barriers. I kept waiting for her comment on these events (similar to your comments) that would put them in context.. and it just never came.

    Even if we agree that once she is at home, she should be ‘wife/mother first’.. who decided that it’s the wife/mother’s job to buy milk? Why is this even implied by ‘be a wife/mother first’? I manage to be a wife at home without it being my job to buy milk.. why must women’s relationships imply what work they need to do in the home? How toxic is that!

    There cannot be equality outside the home until there is equality inside the home. Her mother’s gendered expectations show internalised patriarchy and her refusal to validate her professional success is actually quite sad. This concept of ‘women’s work’ needs to die. People are out there fighting for women to have access to ‘men’s work’ (traditionally better paid and better respected) but no one is going to fight for access ‘women’s work’ which has historically been unpaid/ lowly paid and thankless.


    • When men start doing unpaid ,dirty jobs of cleaning ,cooking both after themselves and after others which women have been doing for centuries only then women can have a breather.
      Women also need to mentally retrain themselves to not aim for becoming super mom or super wife….the guilt will take care of itself !


  10. I think Nooyi just gave a honest interview and wasn’t trying hard to be politically correct . Which is much more than interviews the likes of Sheryl Sandberg give . And I hate to say this but guilt is something we women tend to do more than men . You have to give her credit for having come this far despite her mother’s obvious narrow mindedness .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bloggers will judge Indra Nooyi and her mom. But she never complained. Some people can submit to their parents or spouses without feeling victimized. They know when to assert themselves and when to accept the apparent tyranny. Submission is healthy – not everyone gets it. She knows better, she is an achiever.


  12. This was exactly my reaction .. i would have told my mom we will have breakfast at a 5 star tomorrow .. you are mother of a CEO , learn to act like one and This is he crown i earned ,I will wear it with pride.
    My ex MIL told me that ” A woman can be prime minister of a country , but in her house she has to be a wife first and should not let success get into her head .. stay grounded its your first promotion ” . Of course i divorced the family .
    I am sick and tired of such women in our leadership , no fierce women around who say ..your is the world to conquer , go for it ladies ..wear your high heels and kick some asses. Of all the women in leadership seminars I have attended i met only one lady I can look up to and imagine what she was asked on the forum ” what does your husband do ?”,”How many children you have ” she is double masters from reputed international universities , she worked on big mergers and all we ask her is about her marriage and kids . She is single and i think happy though every other woman in room disagreed. I do not know how many kids my manager’s manager has or who takes care of them when he travels , but its not important because he is a guy.Why even after achieving success in career , a woman is only known by her family status.
    And the comments at all forums had men applauding this women and telling modern Indian woman to be grounded and know their real role in life. They were praising her mom to keep her in check. she will be cited as an ideal indian women for at least 2 more years .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being grounded is a great gift, whatever your gender.

      And I am sick of these women who think you are a woman only if you wear high heels and kick ass… Sorry but to me this is immature.

      If you like high heels then wear them, if you like to walk to work then wear comfortable shoes 😉

      Oh, but you are in fact voicing one problem of women in the workplace; you are not taken seriously if you are not sexy….


  13. “Clearly fame isn’t everything is it Mr. Potter!” – Severus Snape, HP and Philosophers Stone, movie

    Seriously, if a woman of Ms. Nooyi’s stature, whom every woman looks up to is going to peddle such …. such opinions she is simply putting swords into hands of those who say a woman’s place is at home. They will say, “See even Nooyi wishes she had been a better mother/wife, so stop chasing your dreams or you also end up with regrets like her”

    Seriously, if she IS having regrets so late in life she should have just kept her mouth shut instead of making an example out of herself to ruin dream of many women struggling to make it!

    I am not usually the one to say a woman should ‘keep her mouth shut’ but I have always been such a big fan of Ms. Nooyi, she has been such an inspiration to me that this totally feels….. betrayed may be, not sure, hurt, yes, and I don’t even know why cause I am not usually so touched by what I call celebrities, people I don’t really know…. I mean if some random woman had said this may be I think, ah she doesn’t know better…..but …

    ah! I am rambling 😦


    • She says her job is her passion and yes she gave up some things to achieve this. And everyone has regrets–she feels maybe that she was not a “good” enough mother, maybe no one can be that “good” mother, but i don’t see her saying she would give up her job for those regrets or for being a better mother. But everyone copes.
      I think the trouble with making someone a role model is we forget they are human beings!!


  14. I agree with you that men don’t get held up by the same standards as women. However, I think Nooyi was just being honest about the challenges she faced when trying to “have it all”. Do we really think she holds such regressive ideas herself? I think she’s had to judge herself against the yardstick of being the perfect modern Indian woman, and has realised that it’s impossible to meet such expectations. I welcome this view…there are many who don’t even get a choice in picking a career vs kids, let alone have both!

    I enjoyed reading about her creative parenting ideas – like the one about letting the receptionist vet her daughter’s request to play on PS.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I agree women and men cant have it all- but i add to it ‘ at the same time’ , no one can have it all at the same time ‘. we can have it all if we choose what we want at a particular time and postpone things a bit.
    This is Indira nooyi’s experience and i salute all she had achieved within such narrow confines of her system.
    Luckily for me even though i’m not at the nooyi level and dont ever think im going to be 🙂 i dont have an iota of guilt at working and missing those coffe mornings, our school is smart enough not to have them at 9am and apart from the mandatory parent teacher meets i find the rest of the meet and greet boring and not worth my time irrespective if i was available or not.
    My kids dont care if i show up either, in fact after my on was 8 we were actively encouraged to drop the chaperoning at school trips bit 🙂 by him. we get enough quality time as a family during weekends and evenings and would not care to live in each others pocket .
    i feel bad for her though and her mom’s atitude. when i got a promotion my parents were not with me but my husband and kids celebrated like i was elected president 🙂 such a nice feeling to be supported – not cause i was a mom but as a human being.


  16. For all the comments that have been put out there, why don’t we try to address the basic issue – which is the fact that having kids does prove to be a hurdle in the career path of young individuals. Why don’t we talk about ‘ not having kids’ as a choice? Would that go against the liberal agenda?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurdle in a woman’s path more than a man. For biological , but also social reasons, no? Addressing the gender-difference in the career ‘cost’ associated by becoming a parent is something Nooyi didn’t do (perhaps the interviewer didn’t go there)- but in my experience I have seen that women tend to drop out or slow down much more than the men-in the same job, at the same institution- because society conditions them to be caregivers from the time they are kids.


      • In my experience, I haven’t seen things change on their own. Why don’t we have career women, social scientists, commentators or bloggers who would advocate career over kids? We should talk about women letting go of marriage for their careers or deciding not to have kids for the same. Why do we want to add to the already huge population. We all agree that women have not had their fare share in the workplace but we refuse to acknowledge the real reasons. It’s time we address the real issues that are involved here. We need women would would promote ‘not having kids’ as a choice. You can date men, get married if you like and refuse to have kids if you want to work and achieve something in life. Thoughts?


        • Well, I’d say I’m ready to make that choice. In my field, to reach a position of substantial power at a young age I would either have to not have kids, or have kids and let someone else raise them.
          In other words, a choice not unlike what most men face.
          However, a man can still technically get to be a parent without ever taking time off work, for a woman, that would be biologically impossible. That is what is unfair. Circumstantially, not hating on the men.
          And that’s what drives the call for more accomodative workplaces.
          Plus, I guess institutions that treat their employees well are going to attract the best talent of either gender.

          However, yeah, if doing well in a particular career means enough to someone, they should be able to choose that over having a kid for society’s sake.
          ‘Refusing’ to have kids would be a brave thing to do for an Indian woman, especially if she’s married.


      • @ Desi Daaru

        Wish we had more women like you who would choose career over children. In my humble opinion, there is no need to add more human beings to our already over populated country. We need more skilled women to contribute to the economy.

        ‘Refusing’ to have kids would be a brave thing to do for an Indian woman, especially if she’s married.’ – couldn’t agree more!

        If a woman plans to have kids, it should be one of the agenda items to be discussed during dating/courtship so that a plan can be devised as to who is going to spend time taking care of kids. Why do we assume that having kids is normal?


  17. I commend Indra for sharing her experiences. I have always wanted to be a career woman, did well in school and college and got my MBA when I had just hit 21 yrs, snagged a great job via campus recruitment and got married a year later. 1 year after my first job, I had a beautiful baby. My husband took 8 months off to be with our baby, he asked me to just continue doing what made me happy. He lost out on many opportunities, but, he did not care. I felt good that my baby was being cared for by her own daddy. I got promoted twice in a year and now I am in a Senior Management role. I have not missed even a single PTA meeting, field trips, school parties and have attended all competitions and concerts of my kids. Who says you can’t have it all? I tuck my babies in their beds after telling stories and login at 9 in the night and work till 12, husband does his bit too, in fact, we take turns. I feel that, if both partners think alike, then, you can make it work. We did.


    • Another thing that worked for me was that, all my bosses (except one) are big on family time, they were very supportive. I understand that this is not the case with everyone.


  18. I am a guy. Work hard. I have friends who are married and have kids. You either spend time to spend at work or you spend it with your family. You can either attend meetings with your boss or with teachers at your kids school.

    Guys dont feel guilty about this choice. They might feel sad, they might regret it sometime. But no guilt. They don’t think they are poor fathers, they accept the fact that they have other Priorities/responsibilities and move on.

    Nobody can have it all. Not at the same time. Not always not everywhere. Its simply not possible.

    Man and women all have the same 24 hrs in a day.you can only do so much.


  19. The original article was focusing on her . I doubt the interviewer took any notice on the husband at all in this case. It was a personal piece and she has her opinion . I don’t think its fair to assume the father dint do any of the house chore or anything else , there is no evidence or mention of that in the orginal article . She is holding a very important post , she will miss many of the things and she will feel guilty about it. I am sure many Male CEO’s may feel guilty about missing thier kids games , but i dont think the media is particularly interested to talk about that guilt. I understand the spirit of your rebuttal, i just dont see any evidence in the orginal article. Kids need both thier parents when they grow up , she feels guilty about not spending enough time with them , hence from her POV that statement made sense. It could be true that its not just women who cant have it all , maybe men cant have it all.Just maybe as a family they can provide what is essential to thier kids, I think they may have done that , I assume both parents may have contirbuted.


  20. I don’t think men feel guilty abt missing out on spending time with wife or children until and unless his family complains. He is making money and providing ,…that’s his job profile.,according to him and society.
    Maybe women might achieve that acceptance by the end of this century,…. who knows?
    Till then, I am happy we have indra nooyi and Sheryl Sandberg to look up to….tomorrow I can tell my daughter that a serious education and degree will give her wings to fly.


    • I too thought of Sheryl Sandberg when I read this post. We need more women in positions of real power (and yes I define power in the traditional/male sense because it counts for more than other kinds of power)- advocating for women in the workplace.


  21. I wonder if people read this about the timing of interview of Nooyi with Atlantic. The article says – “The second question was preceded by a brief discussion of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

    It seems well in context here that she probably agrees with the title of the book they are speaking and she shares her experiences on why she agrees with the title. Professional heights or educational status or social ladder do not guarantee progressive mindsets. Here, I am not saying Nooyi is not progressive but speaking in general.

    And frankly I think she might now understand that she was wrong but that would not stop her from feeling guilty. She thinks her kids do not believe she has met their expectations so she feels bad. I think we should appreciate her for her success inspite of such adversities and stop criticising her for not candyflossing her experiences.




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  30. The main reason for this attitude in men is their moms.If they had let their sons do their own chores and if they had told their sons the difficulties that come with being a woman,men would act much much reasonably.but will they do it? No…because its their “poor baby” when it comes to their son.He cant cut his own fruit,he cant make his own tea,he cant pack his own clothes,he cant wash his own plate,worst of all he cant take a towel while going to bath,if he does all of it,then what would be the purpose of that mother.Such a man expects his wife to continue what his mother did.Only when change happens in the house,then the society ll follow.If for that man itself,a wife has to do this many stuff,imagine what he ll expect her to do to their kids,the same what his mom did.Nooyi is a typical example of an indian wife i would say. You are lucky enough to get a husband who treats you equal and takes up half of the chores but a typical indian wife would not be so lucky.what will you tell a man whose mind is filled with thoughts like, “baby pooped,its smelly and i wont deal with it”,”division of labour should be such that i earn and housewife should take care of the rest(including me)”…



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