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“Wonder Woman Files” is a weekly career column on Madame Noire. Stay tuned for more topics, comment or write us at if you have suggestions!

Women in France on average have two children, a rate higher than neighboring countries, according to a New York Times story.

They also have one of the best employment rates: 82% despite the financial crisis.

After decades of governmental reform, women in France seem to have the world for the taking! The New York Times decided to interview 12 women throughout the course of the year to find out if living in a country with great conditions for gender equality meant that these French women “had it all.”

The results were that, just like Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, and the list goes on, many women who were successful in career terms, suffered in personal areas.

France’s highest ranking governmental official, Jean-François Copé said that for many women, increased career opportunities often meant making personal sacrifices.  “It’s almost as though most women are saying ‘thank you very much for the glass ceiling, we’ve cracked it but there’s not enough air out there so I don’t want to go,’” said Copé.

After years of advancing women’s rights to equal opportunity, many of us have found that the options to excel require sacrificing parts of our personal life that bring us joy.  Whether it’s family, friends or a significant other, many women feel like Amel Larrieux – “Always Giving Something Up.”

While the dilemma is a mild one compared to women in decades past, it seems the choice is either: a) thrusting all of yourself towards a highly successful career or b) “settling” to some extent to preserve the relationships and connections we hold dear.

While we’ve finally been given room to rise, many of us didn’t realize how scary the open air could be: long hours, for example, singledom, promotions that mean less precious time with the family we love…

We are empowered by the freedom, but are now faced with choices that can leave us feeling more incomplete than ever.

Many hopefuls like me still hold out hope that there’s a way to have it all. But, tell me ladies, what are your thoughts? Is the can’t-have-it-all plight of French women a universal one that even sisters can relate to? Or, is work-life balance still attainable for the fabulous, modern Madame?

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