CEO says America is 'losing GDP' because it's not using women

Meet the female CEO who says women 'can't have it all'
Meet the female CEO who says women 'can't have it all'

What does America's gross domestic product have to do with women in the workforce?

Everything, according to Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the nonpartisan think tank "New America."

"As a nation, we are losing GDP because we're not using women's talents to the fullest," Slaughter told CNN's Poppy Harlow.

Slaughter, who discussed her new book "Unfinished Business," said America is also "losing" well-educated women. She said these women are outperforming men until they reach the point in their careers when they want to start having children or have to care for other loved ones.

"They start to fall off," Slaughter said of women who drop out of the workforce. She noted that women are often forced to make a choice between "advancing their careers and caring for others."

"What happens then is they're shut out and we as a country...are losing their talent [and] the investment that corporations made in them," she said.

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Slaughter said the solution to the problem requires a shift in society's attitude about caring for children and loved ones so that this work is valued and supported equally by men and women.

"[W]e need to focus less on women alone," Slaughter said. "[I]f we really want to get to full equality we've got to focus on care and supporting care for children, for elders, for everybody else, and we have to change the roles and options open to men. In that sense, it's an everybody movement."

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Slaughter also spoke about how unpredictable life can be, and emphasized that women shouldn't try to control their lives or worry when things don't go according to plan.

"It's very easy to hit a tipping point and to suddenly find that the carefully constructed work-family balance that you relied on, suddenly you tip over. When that happens, that doesn't mean that you're out of the game," she said.

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Before heading New America, Slaughter served in the U.S. State Department from 2009-2011 as the director of policy planning. She also wrote an article for The Atlantic in 2012 -- that went viral -- titled "Why Women Still Can't Have it All."

In the article, Slaughter argued that it's impossible for women to be both uber-successful career women and perfect mothers without major societal changes. She also encouraged young women to reevaluate their priorities and urged young men to join the movement to effect change.

In the interview, Slaughter discussed the differences between the views she expresses in her book and those in her article.

"[W]hen I was writing that article I was focused really on women at the top. I was focused on...why are there not enough women at the top? I now am looking at, not only why are there too few at the top, but why are there too many at the bottom," Slaughter said. "I see that as part of the same problem. I see that as a problem of discriminating against care-giving, which I didn't see before."

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