Women can't have it all

Elise T. Chisolm

April 23, 1991|By Elise T. Chisolm

IF ARTHUR Kent, NBS' high-profile war correspondent, got pregnant, would he be bumped off the network?

Probably not. The network would find a way to accommodate him. If he wanted maternity leave for four years, I suspect he'd get it.

NBS would be good to him either way.

I know I'm perpetuating a feminist fantasy here, but VIP news jobs are still pretty male-oriented, as are presidents of big corporations and prestigious spots in our federal government.

The Mommy Track, in which career women compromise their work in order to raise a family, is still a rocky road. The biggest pitfall, or blessing, as you care to see it, is that women are the ones who carry and give birth to the babies. But you don't get Brownie points in the workplace for motherhood.

From police women to television news stars, that's the way it is.

Career women who are pausing to smell the roses are noticing the thorns.

But there is a new wind a-blowing: Some women VIPs are electing to stay home with their babies, and their employers are making some fair-minded adjustments.

Yet in spite of this, I still think women really can't have it all.

On the Oprah Winfrey Show Friday, veteran newswoman Jane Pauley, once queen of ''The Today Show,'' who was bumped from her seat by Deborah Norville, said about Norville's own recent departure from the show: ''Deborah decided to stay home . . . what you've got, you'll always have, and you can always come back.''

The perky Pauley, who is happy with her weekly ''Real Life'' show, was perhaps being kind. Because NBC had been worried about sluggish ratings with Norville in the hostess seat.

So it was convenient when Norville stepped down and announced she wanted to ''give her son the best possible start in life.''

Norville is now replaced by Katie Couric. But guess what? Katie is pregnant. So soon there will be another person sitting in the ''Today'' jump seat.

Also on the slippery Mommy Track is Meredith Vieira, formerly of ''60 Minutes'' and now let go because she asked for part-time work, again, to stay home with her second baby.

Then there's CBS' Connie Chung, who is being paid by the network to stay home in order to get pregnant.

As far as I can ascertain, some -- I say some -- of the network heads, all men, of course, have been pretty nice about flex-time and part time.

And this is a milestone for working women. It might even play in smaller businesses where the women aren't famous.


But let's be fair. In the case of television news women who are paid fortunes and who want babies -- you can't expect it all at once. The balancing of home and career is an act few can do,

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