Sloan Women's Week - How To Have It "All"

 by Rachel Hassas

As I wrap my summer internship in financial services in San Francisco, I am reflective on where my path will take me in the future.  Since it is Sloan Women's Week, I would like to touch on a somewhat taboo topic in business school - being a working mother.  I am not a mom (yet), but it is something I hope to have in the future as I am one who wants it "all" (ie: a challenging career AND a fulfilling family life).  Being at Sloan has taught me that this is more than possible. 

Two specific examples come to mind as women who have paved the way and demonstrated that it can be done:

  • I spent my spring break on an international study tour with two inspiring women.  They both gave birth the summer before starting at Sloan and have been able to balance the rigors of MBA life with being moms.  They taught me that you can’t wait for the “right” time to start a family and that your family can fit into your life at whatever point you are in.  They also taught me the importance of utilizing your support system – whether it be family and in-laws who babysit, a supportive spouse, dependable child-care, or ideally, all three.  Here is another great example of an MBA student/new mom, at the Wharton school.
  • During my summer internship I found many examples of women who had it all – senior positions at a large financial firm, a family at home, and a working spouse.  They were able to do it by working hard earlier on in their careers and making themselves indispensable, then starting a family and demanding flexibility.  Furthermore, they work smart and are able to accomplish as much in a shorter work day than their peers in a full day.  One of the best pieces of advice I got this summer was to never ask for a reduced schedule with reduced pay – you risk working just as much as everyone else to keep up, but getting paid less for it.  Instead, I was advised to perform at your best in the most efficient way possible to maximize time you have at home with a family.

Being a student has also shown me that there is still more work to be done.  There are still huge gaps for MBA grads as women are dropping out of the workforce at alarming rates.  This article outlines this issue as it relates to HBS, but I am certain it is not unique to their program.  To make the business world a better place for women in the future, I believe more woman have to stay engaged, demand flexibility, and mentor others who are faced with the same challenges.  I hope to be part of this change and I look forward to seeing what my fellow classmates do to move the needle as well.