In Recess

Wine, Working and Womanhood—Alston & Bird Lawyer Says Working Moms Are "All In This Together"

Christy Eikhoff just wanted to gather some working moms for a 'discussion party.' The impact of that 2012 event is still spreading.

Daily Report

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From left: Jennifer Hogan, Ronda Zanta and Christy Eikhoff at a W3 discussion for working mothers. Eikhoff said she got the idea for the first gathering in the middle of the night and got up to list invitees.
From left: Jennifer Hogan, Ronda Zanta and Christy Eikhoff at a W3 discussion for working mothers. Eikhoff said she got the idea for the first gathering in the middle of the night and got up to list invitees.

When Anne-Marie Slaughter, contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine and a professor at Princeton University, wrote an article in 2012 about working mothers, it created a stir among women. Titled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," the article questioned the notion that working women can balance high-powered careers and raising children.

Atlanta attorney Christy Hull Eikhoff, mother of Evie, 9, and Grey, 7, says she knew her friends who were working moms had read the article and had opinions about it, but none of them had found the time to actually talk about it.

To make the time, Eikhoff decided to hold a "discussion party" to get the thoughts and insights of working moms across the professional spectrum. "The night ended up being so unexpectedly inspiring in terms of the camaraderie," says Eikhoff, "that it was pretty much the consensus that we've got to do this again." Thus came the invitation-only discussion group Wine, Working and Womanhood, or "W3" for short.

The group decided to keep future meetings to a biannual event, acknowledging anything more frequent was not realistic.

Eikhoff, a partner with Alston & Bird, chatted with the Daily Report about her idea that blossomed into an unexpected resource and support for working moms of all kinds.

How many people usually come to Wine, Working and Womanhood?

We usually have between 25 and 40 people. But what I did for the first, initial event was I just sat down—and I remember it was the middle of the night—energized with this idea of getting all these working moms together to talk about this article, and I came up with a list of my personal friends who were working moms. I came up with 30 names.

Then, I wanted to make sure that it was a good, diversified group and a group that people would be comfortable in, so I invited each invitee to bring a friend who they thought would be interested in or could benefit from the discussion.

That has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this concept is that it's expanding our network of friends and colleagues. It's just diversifying the discussion. If it were a discussion with people who are just my friends, and only my friends, it would be a narrow spectrum.

Do you facilitate the discussion? How does it work?

It's a guided discussion that is always at my house. It's very informal. We don't have a caterer or a bartender. It's bring a bottle of wine or an hors d'oeuvre or dessert, and I'd say 90 percent of the people have picked up something on the way.

After visiting with each other and catching up, we break up into groups of about five people and then every small group walks through the prepared discussion questions. Then we all get back together as a big group to talk about what are the high points of our small group discussion and what are our takeaways.

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