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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington DC Wednesday July 16, 2014. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 16: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington DC Wednesday July 16, 2014. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The worn-out debate about whether women can “have it all” is misleading at best and fails to address the real issues facing American women because it’s overly simplistic. First, let’s stop pretending that work is optional for most women in America. Seven out of every 10 moms work, and for many of them, earning money is a necessity, not a choice.

Women work because their families need food, shelter and clothing. They work because they want to live in a safer neighborhood or because they want to save for their kids’ college educations or live the American dream. Today, four out of every 10 mothers are either the biggest breadwinner in the family or the only breadwinner in the family. More women than ever are earning their family’s paycheck while also serving as their family’s primary caregiver.

Women also work because they want to work. They want to have an impact on their communities or in their professional field, and they want to make a difference outside of their homes. They should not be deemed selfish or overreaching because of that human desire.

Instead of only asking about why or how women are doing so much (or trying to “have” so much), we should ask what American companies can do to help their workers meet their families’ needs.

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