On Monday, PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival about her work-life balance. “The biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict,” she observed. Just as women are reaching middle management, kids need the most parenting and attention. Then when women move up the corporate ladder, they must turn their attention to aging parents. “We’re screwed. We cannot have it all.”
She did say, however, that women can learn to cope with that reality. “If you ask our daughters, I’m not sure that they will say I’ve been a good mom,” she continued. She told a story about how she could not make it to the coffee meeting where moms would come to school with their children at 9 a.m. every Wednesday at her daughter’s school. Nooyi’s daughter would come home and criticize her for not being able to attend. Nooyi called the school to find out what other mothers were absent so she would feel reassured that other working moms also couldn’t make the meetings. “You have to cope because you die with guilt,” she said.