Judy Woodruff Once Thought She Could Do it All

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

All this week we're talking to women and mothers who have harnessed smarts, spirit, and self-awareness to break into male-dominated careers and rise to the top.

Judy Woodruff has covered news and politics as a broadcast journalist for more than three decades for PBS, CNN, and NBC. She served as an anchor and senior corresponded at CNN for 12 years and was the White House Correspondent for NBC News from 1977 to 1982. 

Woodruff is also a wife and mother of three, including a son with spina bifida. Her children are now grown but she hasn't forgotten the feelings of guilt and sacrifice that accompanied juggling a demanding career with a busy home life. "I had this crazy idea you could pursue your career with abandon, and you could get married and have a family and it would all work out happily ever after and there wouldn't be any complications when it came to juggling...that wasn't even a word in my vocabulary. I just had this naive idea that you could do it all."


Judy Woodruff

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Megan Quellhorst

Comments [5]

Colleen Freidberg

I don't understand the point of this article. Is Judy Woodruff supposedly saying that she didn't have it all? Where does her husband weigh in on this?
Who took care of the handicapped child? How many domestic helpers were there
when the kids came home from school? Did the kids get shipped off to boarding
This discussion is SO old. There are just so many hours in a day.

Aug. 14 2013 10:32 PM
Kelly Watson from Los Angeles, CA

The underlying assumption in many of these stories is that balancing work and a life is somehow different for women than it is for men because women are primarily responsible for taking care of the family. Until we re-frame this and accept that we are all responsible for taking care of the family, we cannot free women to proudly pursue their passions. Women and men can all follow their métier and raise strong families if they do it together.

The corollary assumption is that men are primarily responsible for earning a living. Until we re-frame this and accept that we are all responsible for earning a living, we cannot break this paradigm where the male is the primary breadwinner and the female works when it is convenient as long as everything else still gets done: The perfect home, well-adjusted children, and domestic bliss.

Women and men can integrate work and life only when they shed these outdated assumptions and take equal responsibility for their careers and lives.

May. 14 2013 03:31 PM
Elizabeth from North New Jersey

God lord, I am so bored with this topic. I've been hearing this for 30 years ever since women became a presence in the white collar job market. Everything in life is a trade off and no one "hass it all" -- not men and not women. Get over it already.

May. 08 2013 10:28 AM
Erica Paige Schumacher from Northport, NY

Community is important when the quality of community nourishes and nurtures its families. And it's important for children and parents to a greater or lesser degree to have real support personally, professionally, even sometimes emotionally. I'm not sure why motherhood is always associated in American Culture with Guilt and Sacrifice. Caring is important. Love is important; stability is important for most children. Is there something mothers should feel guilty for?

I like the European idea that Children are not a separate category of people. They seem more balanced as parents, generally and culturally. Their kids also seem more balanced and mature than American children.

All kinds of families can 'work,' the individuals in families differ and should not be lumped together; and men receive a lot of societal support simply as 'Men.' Woodruff should be proud of her accomplishments professionally and personally. And if she's a good mother, why is that always tied to a Woman's profession? Both things are not typically tied together in the cultural mind with other groups. The idea that women have to be 'good professionals and good mothers,' automatically places them in two challenging categories from a societal viewpoint. In reality, they can be both, Separately.

May. 07 2013 10:44 PM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

For most of the past several hundred thousand years we have lived in groups of 30-300 people. The nuclear family existed within that context. All adults were more or less involved in the care, upbringing and discipline of all children.
Our excessive emphasis on the nuclear family, done primarily for reasons of industrial efficiency, has proven to be a failure, even a catastrophe. We need to find some means of bringing back the close group concept.
Then, you see, Ms. Woodruff could have zoomed off temporarily on her career activity, while comfortable her kids would be taken care of and loved while she was gone.
I think the above can be done. It must done, I think, if humanity is to prosper in or even survive the challenges ahead.
I hope Ms. Woodruff reads this. She could do a piece on the concept on the Nightly News!

May. 07 2013 02:00 PM

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