In anticipation of her appearance at the EnlightenNext Midsummer Renaissance Festival in London on July 30-31, 2011, Dr. Elizabeth Debold, senior editor of EnlightenNext magazine, wrote a short, provocative piece for The Guardian that began, somewhat pointedly and rather tongue-in-cheek, with her proposal that women are at risk of turning back the clock by participating in a dangerous trend—the refusal to take leadership and actively engage in creating cultural change:
Sometimes I wonder if, 20 years hence, we as a society will decide that it doesn’t make sense to grant women coveted spots in advanced programmes in business, law, science or medicine. Because, by then, it will be obvious that the vast majority of women who are eligible for such positions—women who are extremely bright and talented—aren’t really interested in following through on their professions and taking up the responsibilities of leadership. Because it will be clear that, after receiving the benefits of 10 to 15 years of training, most women opt out, leave their responsibilities and seek fulfilment within the traditional roles of wife and mother. In the future, we collectively might shrug our shoulders and say, well, it just isn’t working to try to get women on corporate boards or as half the elected officials in government or at the top of any profession. Because women have proven, through their choices, that they would rather not.
A torrent of responses followed (read the full piece and the responses here). Rather than advocating for women’s right to leadership or for more family-friendly policies to support women at work and home, most of the responses argued for women being in the home—which is exactly the dangerous trend that Dr. Debold’s article points to.