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January 24, 2007

Choosing motherhood

Monday was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, so this week, many people around the country are focusing on issues of choice and life. Which makes yesterday's appearance by Elizabeth Vargas on the Oprah Winfrey show particularly relevant. Vargas, you'll remember, was named co-anchor of ABC's evening news program a little more than a year ago. In January 2006, her co-anchor Bob Woodruff was seriously injured in Iraq, and soon after, Vargas stepped down from her post, citing her second pregnancy. The assumption was that the brass at ABC decided it wasn't time for a woman to solo anchor the evening news, but Vargas told Winfrey the real reasons for her departure yesterday. As quoted in a Washington Post article:

I was finding it more and more difficult to do that job the way I wanted to do it, which is 100 percent...and still be a great mother.

Vargas said her husband's assertion that their three-year-old son was paying a heavy price for mom's long hours at work, combined with the news that she was expecting another child, are why she eased back on a fantastic career. Vargas's choice to put her family ahead of her career makes her a superstar in my book.

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Katharine Eastvold

You don't mention that Vargas is now co-anchor of ABC's 20/20. Certainly that was a demotion in terms of prestige, but it's not peanuts either, and I'm sure it's a very demanding job. I think it's great that she gave up achieving the pinnacle of her career so quickly in order to spend more time with her family, but I also think it's great that she's been able to continuing working in a position that is less high-profile but still uses her talents. Plus, from the interviews I've seen, it sounds like she hasn't given up hope of anchoring a daily program - it will just come a little later in her career. So, I don't think she'd be comfortable with becoming the poster woman for leaving the workforce and staying home; in fact, I think she's a good example of a woman who may not "have it all" (in that she gave up the solo anchor spot of a daily news show) but has managed to come pretty close.

Kristine Steakley

Katharine, that's a great point of clarification. I certainly didn't mean to imply that Vargas is now a stay-at-home mom. Personally, I love that she's trying to strike a balance between advancing a (still) stellar career and caring for a growing young family. It's a tension that not everyone would be comfortable with, but I admire her willingness to try to find a way to make it work.

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