FORTUNE -- In what felt like a knockdown, drag out election season, we heard plenty about the problems in Washington and improving the lives of American women. As a foreign policy professor and a woman who has worked in Washington, Anne-Marie Slaughter knows these issues all too well.
Slaughter currently teaches at Princeton, but last year, she ended a two-year term as the director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department. She was previously dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Slaughter also, suddenly, reignited the perennial debate among working women this past summer after she wrote an article in The Atlantic called "Why Women Still Can't Have it All." She spoke with Fortune about leadership in Washington and why women should not blame themselves if they are struggling to balance work and family.
An edited transcript is below.
Fortune: You've been a dean and you've worked in the State Department. How do you lead differently in academia versus in the government?
Anne-Marie Slaughter: Well, my one-liner is that in academia, you're rewarded for coming up with a really big idea that has only your name on it, but in Washington, you're rewarded for cutting big ideas into little ideas and getting other people to think they thought of them. It's an old adage in Washington that you can get anything done if you don't want to take credit for it, and it is true.
But the real difference is Washington is the politics. I don't know if the politics are fiercer but they're different. I had to watch my back a lot more.
People were out to get you? More
There is no single sweeping solution that will help all women. And there's no reason there should be.
By Amanda Pouchot
FORTUNE -- It's a broken record at this point: the dearth of women on boards of tech companies (or on any boards for that matter); that less than 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women; that women make 77 cents to a man's dollar. Yes, we've heard. There are "Women's Issues" MOREJul 5, 2012 11:02 AM ET
|Google files First Amendment court case against NSA surveillance secrecy|
|Chrysler relents, agrees to recall 2.7 million Jeeps|
|Perils of moving to a no-tax state|
|Stocks rally as Fed looms large|
|Yahoo: 13,000 government requests for data|