This open letter is a response to the recent interview of Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo in The Atlantic.
Dear Mrs. Indra Nooyi,
I am NOT a fan. Actually, that’s a lie. Your work is admirable and no one can take that away from you, but your ideas of motherhood are outdated and frankly, ridiculous. There are so many things wrong with what you have stated in your interview and I would like to address them.
I understand the culture you come from, and as a fellow brown girl, I get it. I really do. You are taught from day one that your role is exactly what your mom said to you. At home, you are “supposed” to be the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother.
At work, you can be as successful as you want, even the CEO of a multi-national company. My question is WHY does the crown have to be left in the garage? Why can’t you be proud of your accomplishments at home? It isn’t as though you become a different person when you walk into your house.
Why is your role at home exclusive to the other members of your family and your relationship with them? Why can’t you just be Indra K Nooyi – CEO of PepsiCo, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, and mother? You earned your crown, so who else should you be sharing it with?
You will argue that there isn’t enough time, for example, you even missed the morning coffees with all the other mothers on Wednesday mornings. Here comes problem number two, and it’s not exclusively your problem. The word parent is gender-neutral, so then why are the Wednesday morning coffees only geared towards mothers? This is the problem in our society which perpetuates the misconception that women take care of the children, and men go out and work.
There are thousands of children who do not have mothers and go on to become loving and successful people. They may have two fathers, one father, or maybe a single mother who just can’t take off Wednesday mornings for her children. What do they do? Maybe the problem isn’t that women can’t have it all, but rather it’s that society needs to get it out of their heads that only women take care of the children. Your husband seems understanding and loving, I seriously doubt that he would have minded going in on Wednesday mornings to your daughter’s school.
You are correct in one thing, that people usually cannot have it all. Unless someone has a time-turner the way Harry Potter did in The Prisoner of Azkaban, we all have 24 hours in a day; both men and women. If you invest more time in work, then that means less time for everything else. I completely understand the math of your point, BUT why is it that you are specifically talking about women?
Because in your mind, as well as the minds of thousands of others, we are responsible for so many things. As a wife and mother, you are responsible for taking care of your children and your husband. As a daughter/daughter-in law, you are expected to take care of their needs. BUT WHY ONLY YOU? Yes, I agree you should want to be a good mother, wife, daughter, etc. BUT SHOULDN’T MEN BE RESPONSIBLE ALSO? You explicitly mention that:
“Every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions.”
It’s great that you are thinking about these things, but shouldn’t male CEOs be making similar decisions about whether they are going to be a husband or a father? This problem is NOT gender specific and that needs to be known before you turn thousands of women away from leadership and ambition based on an outdated concept of the family unit.
I expected differently from you. As a female CEO and a inspiration to countless women, you owe it to future generations. I am not ignorant enough to believe that people can be the most successful in their career, while simultaneously juggling being the best mother, daughter, wife, etc.
I recognize that sacrifice is a part of any accomplishment. But all I see in this article, is you comparing yourself to other mothers who carried out the role “better” than you did. You belittled anything that your children learned from you and your husband about success, drive, motivation, and relationships because you were not a “good mother” by society’s standards.
A future mother and future CEO
Shruti Patel is a 23 year old brown girl who has a lot of thoughts on a lot of things! She is a feminist/equal-rights advocate, singer, and Beyonce enthusiast. She hopes to use her voice to help women understand what we are capable of. 🙂
Original post published at Shruti Patel’s personal Tumblr.