Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

The AIM Great Debate: Are today’s women expected to do it all?

Emma Grey

Lean In author and Facebook COO, Cheryl Sandberg wrote a heartfelt and now virally-shared post about what she’d learned in the first thirty days since the unexpected loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg.

“Whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning,” she warned.

Amongst her list of poignant observations, she included this: “A colleague told me that his wife, whom I have never met, decided to show her support by going back to school to get her degree – something she had been putting off for years. Yes! When the circumstances allow, I believe as much as ever in leaning in. And so many men — from those I know well to those I will likely never know — are honouring Dave’s life by spending more time with their families.”

Perhaps it’s some comfort to know that there’s some shuffling going on in families. That her husband’s death is inspiring some change in people’s lives.

We’ve been talking about ‘having it all’ for years, but the debate remains muddy. What does ‘it all’ mean, anyway? Is it career and kids? Career and elite sport? Career and caring for elderly parents or volunteering or travel? Can it be any of these scenarios and more?

Can we have ‘it all’ now, or do we consume it piecemeal? Is it only women who want it, or is this something men crave too?

What’s the purpose of our careers? Is it the achievement? The financial security? The fun?

And if it is the ‘fun’, then is it okay to focus on that when children are little?


The debate rages on, head-spinningly, while we tangle ourselves in responsibility and busyness, hoping we’re scraping through respectably on most fronts. Fearing we’re not, in our darker moments. Wondering how many hats can we wear before we begin to lose sight of who we are…

AIM’s Women in Management has picked this provocative theme for its upcoming Great Debate with the topic: Today’s women are expected to do it all.

Genevieve Jacobs, Annette Owttrim, Cate Carnell, Joe Roff, Julie McKay, Gai Brodtmann and our own Amanda Whitley will wrestle the topic, and share their wit and wisdom in what promises to be another thought-provoking and entertaining event.

I’m particularly curious to know who expects us to do it all… and I’ve a sneaking suspicion the answer may be rather close to home.

One of my favourite quotes is from author Brendan Burchard who says that, at the end of our lives, we’ll each look back and ask three questions:

Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?

‘Did I do it all?’ didn’t make his cut, yet ‘doing it all’ absorbs so much of our time, doesn’t it.

I’d like to know why…

The essentials

What: AIM Great Debate: “Today’s women are expected to do it all.”
When: 12pm-2.30pm Friday 19 June
Where: National Convention Centre, Canberra
How much: AIM Members $145; Non-members $185; AIM Member Table of 10 $1350; Non-member Table of 10 $1750


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

Handmade Leaderboard AW18