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?