Letter to Our Daughters

To Our Daughters, You are empowered like no other generation of women in history.

You can and will do anything to which you set your mind and heart. So please, relax and enjoy your life journey.

Thanks to great women and men who came before, glass ceilings have been shattered. For example, as of January 1, women run three of the six largest defense contract firms. A recent Forbes article describes Linda Hudson of BAE Systems as “the most powerful person in the global defense industry.”

Thanks to the freedom accorded to you as American women, and to the education and opportunities you earn by growing up in the northern suburbs, your employment options are equal to those of any man. (Well, maybe not if you pursue Major League sports…) Thanks to a contemporary, educated, affluent culture, which more fully accepts the concept of equality of the sexes, your life partners are quite likely to share child rearing and domestic responsibilities as they support your other pursuits too. The growing number of fathers waiting for Kindergarten pick up each year since you were in grade school has been startling. This trend will only increase because of the extraordinary shift in demographics for those under age 40.

Management consultant and Wilmette resident, Marilyn Moats Kennedy, concludes based on multiple studies that women under the age of 40 are outpacing men in almost all endeavors. (Shhh, please don’t tell your brothers!) More women than men graduate from college and most graduate programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 58% of current U.S. undergraduates are female, 42% are male. Women also substantially outnumber men in graduate degrees for medicine, biology, agricultural sciences, arts & humanities, law and psychology. Women also are leading the charge in new job development from entrepreneurial endeavors. According to data projections from The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, by 2018 job growth will be created primarily by women-owned small businesses.

Given this tidal wave of demographic change, you can be assured that you will not face the barriers that our generation did. Furthermore, a woman’s innate ability to multi-task and find win/win scenarios for ourselves and others is perfectly suited for the demands of a complex, developed world. Women—especially mothers—know how to get things done while nurturing a better world.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent At- lantic Monthly article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” stimulated much debate. Women may not be able to be the primary parent raising great kids, reach the apex of an ambitious career, and find perfect work-life balance all at the same time. But no one—male nor female—should ever expect to do all things perfectly at the same time. It’s not even healthy to aspire to that!

Life is long and good. There will be plenty of time to accomplish multiple goals. Focus on what you love most at each phase of life, and the rest will follow: you have time to do it all—make a mark, make a home and family, make a difference.

Also, please stop worrying about what school you will attend or what job you will land! You are smart, talented, beautiful and healthy. Follow your heart. Put energy into creating new opportunities to do what you most enjoy. It’s not about where you start, but rather about where you end and how much you enjoyed getting there.

We are enormously proud of you. You go girls!