Woman can have it all — if families pitch in

Jul 2, 2014 16:49 UTC

Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo

In an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival Monday, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was asked about whether women can have it all (because what else would a CEO be asked to talk about other than her children?). She gave some very honest answers. While a lot of people latched on to the fact that she’s not sure her daughters will think she was a good mom, the much more important excerpt is the story she tells of the night she found out she was going to become the president of PepsiCo (emphasis mine):

Rather than stay and work until midnight which I normally would’ve done because I had so much work to do, I decided to go home and share the good news with my family. I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, “Mom, I’ve got great news for you.” She said, “let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?” I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, “what time did he get home?” She said “8 o’clock.” I said, “Why didn’t you ask him to buy the milk?” “He’s tired.” Okay. We have a couple of help at home, “why didn’t you ask them to get the milk?” She said, “I forgot.” She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back.

I banged it on the counter and I said, “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.”

If you want to know why there are not more female executives in the world, this is the story. I doubt that many women get this message so blatantly put out there for them by their families, but the duty to be the caregiver is implicit in our culture. That message is hammered home in every sitcom, every family movie, every advertisement.

I don’t know how Nooyi’s daughters feel about her. I do know that if anyone else in her house had gone to go get milk that night, she would have had an extra half hour to spend with them. Women can’t have it all if they are expected to do it all.


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More work and less play for women around the world

Mar 12, 2014 13:14 UTC

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development has a new report out for International Women’s Day showing how men and women in 26 different countries spend their time. It shows that women spent significantly more time during the day working without pay.

Here’s the percentage breakdown of unpaid work — childcare, household chores, etc. — for each country by gender, including the average (the bar on the far right):


Norway is the most egalitarian, with just 54% of unpaid work done by women. In Japan and Korea, it’s nearly 85%. Across 26 countries, women average more than an hour extra per day doing unpaid work. Interestingly, men and women spend about the same amount of time on eating, drinking, and personal care. However, men don’t use all of the extra time that women spend doing chores to do paid work: they also have more leisure time on average. Women also sleep slightly more.


To hammer the point home, check out this activity breakdown by country, with cute little gendered figures:


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