Sylvia Ann Hewlett has documented the difficulties that very high achieving women have in "having it all" - marriage, children, and high-powered career. Hewlett's main finding is that women who do have it all are likely to have married young and traded off career steps with their husbands. However, there has been a paradoxical effect of opening more opportunities in public life to women since the 1970s. Women who seek the top careers are likely to put off marriage and children in favor of launching their careers first - and later run out of time.
Mrs. G. asks us to consider the case of women on the Supreme Court:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg married in 1954 and has two children with well established careers.
Sandra Day O’Connor married in 1952 and has three sons.
Sonia Sotomayor is divorced without children.
"I think there’s a codicil about women having it all, over a lifetime," she wrote to me. "If they thought in the 1950s that there was no chance of ever hitting the Supremes" they would marry, have kids, and pursue whatever career was open to them. However, "it didn’t work in the '70s and after for women who thought there was a chance of" making the Supreme Court, so they "gave up other things to go for the gold."