Can women really have it all?

3 minute read
Lani Tao dressed in subfusc with her daughter

In August 2021 I received my offer from Oxford for admission to the September 2021 cohort for the Executive MBA program. I can tell you I was more than excited; I was in complete disbelief and shock. Oxford was a dream school, one where I almost didn’t apply because I didn’t feel like I stood a chance. But I am so glad I bet on myself. I celebrated matriculation day with my four-year-old at the time, excited to be able to show her that learning doesn’t have an age barrier. I had already mentally prepared to juggle full-time work, schooling and being a parent. I had read the blogs, and the tips and seen others before me be able to juggle it all with grace so I felt inspired that I could too. But of course, life loves to challenge you.


Two months into the program I found out that I was pregnant with baby number 2. I went back to the blogs and started researching how many people had done an Executive MBA pregnant, was it even possible? Luckily for me, there are a couple of others who have, and that gave me hope. But while researching I also saw how many men on these programs had families, newborns, and children and it wasn’t even a second thought about whether to do the program because of it. My ambitious side took hold, and I was determined to 'have it all'.

As a woman, if I had concerns and worries trying to juggle family, work and schooling I know that there would be others also. If I can manage pregnancy, Covid restrictions, and family and work, I hope that it can inspire other women that it is possible to invest in themselves and maintain other aspects of their life. It isn’t an easy journey that’s for sure, but if there is anyone who can handle it, it’s a woman.


I sit here now with my weeks-old newborn and just submitted my accounting final exam, feeling accomplished and exhausted. But I would like to share that it is possible. Women are not meant to have it all because many systems and society are not designed for such, but times are changing, and barriers are being broken. It will take more women in leadership, more women in Executive MBAs, and more women to challenge the status quo for the future generation to have a more equitable future.

For those who are looking to apply and have doubts, know that there were others before you who have done it, who are more than willing to share their insights and a supportive school with amazingly supportive professors. There is a network at Oxford for those with families; there are classmates that will have families of their own, and of course, most importantly is to make sure you have your own support network for the nights before the exam when you question your life choices for that slight moment.

So, can women have it all?

No, we still cannot, but if we do not push the barriers, challenge the norm, and strive for that equity no one will do it for us.