It's possible to travel the world with the State Department and still be a devoted parent. It just takes a lot of ingenuity and hard work.
Like many women in Washington -- and a lot of men, too -- I read with fascination Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter's article in The Atlantic about the challenges she faced in her time in government and the conclusions she drew from her experience. As a career Foreign Service officer currently in a high-level position, and as the mother of two boys aged 8 and 11, I was riveted by Dr. Slaughter's description of the environment in which I work every day. But while Dr. Slaughter concluded that it was impossible to "have it all" as a high-level official in government, my experience could not be more different.
In conversation after conversation, my colleagues and I puzzled over why Dr. Slaughter's experience had so contrasted with ours. Was it because she had tasted another life, that of an academic who had a level of control over her schedule that we could not even imagine? Was it because she tried out government work while living in a different city from her family?
Regardless of why our experiences differed so greatly, I was left thinking not only about my own experience, but about the responsibility we women have to create change by introducing a different environment for the younger, more junior officers -- both male and female -- whether in government or elsewhere. After a stream of officers in the bureau I lead stopped in to tell me that they wished I would weigh in, I decided to add some of my thoughts and experiences to the conversation.