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Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family…

Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family

by Anne-Marie Slaughter

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The idea at the core of this book is not the inequality of women and men in the workplace, but the unequal value American society places on competition (ambition, putting oneself first, breadwinning) and care (providing care for children, aging parents, other family members or friends). Both types of work are equally necessary, but work that generates income is more respected and has more prestige; care work - paid or unpaid - is significantly undervalued and under-appreciated, in no small part because it has traditionally been women's work.

In order to create a more equal, caring society - one that truly does value human capital (the children are our future!) - we must see both competition and care as equally valuable. Individual employers can help by creating more flexible policies for both men and women, and evaluating workers on their output, not simply the number of hours they spend at the office. The government can help by strengthening our (weak, compared to most other countries) social safety net with paid parental leave and high-quality daycare and preschool.

If only we could put all these ideas into effect - change people's thinking and update our public policy - immediately (Or ideally, several decades ago). Change is happening, but too slowly.


...employers are assuming that it is impossible to be both a committed caregiver and a good worker. But why should that be? The least we can do is force employers to justify that assumption. (91)

If we truly valued caregiving - thought that it was not only necessary but important and valuable and hard - we would make every effort to accommodate and support it and judge workers based not on our assumptions but on their results. (92)

Most of the pervasive gender inequalities in our society - for both men and women - cannot be fixed unless men have the same range of choices with respect to mixing caregiving and breadwinning that women do. (127)

Real equality for men and women needs a men's movement to sweep away the gender roles that we continue to impose on men even as we struggle to remove them from women. (128)

Every generation assumes that the way it does things is the way things are. (166)

Mama Unabridged blog: http://mamaunabridged.com/about/ (168)

...talk can change the way we think, which can then change the way we act...we can...[make] our language reflect the change we'd like to see. (186) [e.g. "full-time parent" instead of "stay-at-home mom/dad"]

We can take our founding credo - "All men are created equal" - and understand it to mean that men and women are equal and that the work that was once divided between men and women - earning income and providing care - is equally necessary and equally valuable. (246) ( )
  JennyArch | Nov 12, 2015 |
How we organize our lives so that family and work can both thrive.
Amazon:A powerful, persuasive, thought-provoking vision for how to finish the long struggle for equality between men and women, work and family

When Anne-Marie Slaughter accepted her dream job as the first female director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department in 2009, she was confident she could juggle the demands of her position in Washington, D.C., with the responsibilities of her family life in suburban New Jersey. Her husband and two young sons encouraged her to pursue the job; she had a tremendously supportive boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and she had been moving up on a high-profile career track since law school. But then life intervened. Parenting needs caused her to make a decision to leave the State Department and return to an academic career that gave her more time for her family.

The reactions to her choice to leave Washington because of her kids led her to question the feminist narrative she grew up with. Her subsequent article for The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” created a firestorm, sparked intense national debate, and became one of the most-read pieces in the magazine’s history.

Since that time, Anne-Marie Slaughter has pushed forward, breaking free of her long-standing assumptions about work, life, and family. Though many solutions have been proposed for how women can continue to break the glass ceiling or rise above the “motherhood penalty,” women at the top and the bottom of the income scale are further and further apart. ( )
  clifforddham | Oct 9, 2015 |
Slaughter's Atlantic essay went viral when she wrote about why she was leaving a federal appointment to return to academia and her family. Now head of a non-profit organization, she reflects on life since the article and why focusing more employers' attention on care can help create more loyal and productive employees. Additionally, she reflects on how to improve perceptions of non-traditional male roles. An important, nuanced read about an important issue, with particular focus on college-educated strands of employment. Highly recommended. Review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley.com. (137) ( )
  activelearning | Jul 5, 2015 |
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"When Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" first appeared, it immediately went viral, sparking a firestorm of debate across the country. Within four days, it had become the most-read article in the history of the magazine. In the following months, Slaughter became a leading voice in the nationwide discussion on work-life balance and on women's changing role in the workplace. Now, Slaughter is here with her eagerly anticipated take on the problems we still face, and how we can finally get past them. In her pragmatic, down-to-earth style, Slaughter bursts the bubble on all the "half-truths" we tell young women about "having it all", and explains what is really necessary to get true gender equality, both in the workplace and at home. Deeply researched, and filled with all the warm, wise and funny anecdotes that first made her the most trusted and admired voice on the issue, Anne-Marie Slaughter's book is sure to change minds, ignite debate, and be the topic of conversation"--… (more)

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