Glass Ceilings and 100-Hour Couples: What the Opt-Out Phenomenon Can Teach Us about Work and Family

University of Georgia Press
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When significant numbers of college-educated American women began, in the early twenty-first century, to leave paid work to become stay-at-home mothers, an emotionally charged national debate erupted. Karine Moe and Dianna Shandy, a professional economist and an anthropologist, respectively, decided to step back from the sometimes overheated rhetoric around the so-called mommy wars. They wondered what really inspired women to opt out, and they wanted to gauge the phenomenon’s genuine repercussions. Glass Ceilings and 100-Hour Couples is the fruit of their investigation—a rigorous, accessible, and sympathetic reckoning with this hot-button issue in contemporary life.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews from around the country, original survey research, and national labor force data, Moe and Shandy refocus the discussion of women who opt out from one where they are the object of scrutiny to one where their aspirations and struggles tell us about the far broader swath of American women who continue to juggle paid work and family. Moe and Shandy examine the many pressures that influence a woman’s decision to resign, reduce, or reorient her career. These include the mismatch between child-care options and workplace demands, the fact that these women married men with demanding careers, the professionalization of stay-at-home motherhood, and broad failures in public policy. But Moe and Shandy are equally attentive to the resilience of women in the face of life decisions that might otherwise threaten their sense of self-worth. Moe and Shandy find, for instance, that women who have downsized their careers stress the value of social networks—of “running with a pack of smart women” who’ve also chosen to emphasize motherhood over paid work.

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About the author

Karine Moe is a professor of economics at Macalester College. She is the editor of Women, Family, and Work: Writings on the Economics of Gender. Dianna Shandy is an associate professor of anthropology at Macalester College. She is the author of Nuer-American Passages: Globalizing Sudanese Migration.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Georgia Press
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Published on
Feb 25, 2010
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9780820336084
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Women in Business
Business & Economics / Workplace Culture
Family & Relationships / Parenting / Motherhood
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
Social Science / Sociology / Marriage & Family
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Over the last forty years, the number of American households with a stay-at-home parent has dwindled as women have increasingly joined the paid workforce and more women raise children alone. Many policy makers feared these changes would come at the expense of time mothers spend with their children. In Changing Rhythms of American Family Life, sociologists Suzanne M. Bianchi, John P. Robinson, and Melissa Milkie analyze the way families spend their time and uncover surprising new findings about how Americans are balancing the demands of work and family. Using time diary data from surveys of American parents over the last four decades, Changing Rhythms of American Family Life finds that—despite increased workloads outside of the home—mothers today spend at least as much time interacting with their children as mothers did decades ago—and perhaps even more. Unexpectedly, the authors find mothers' time at work has not resulted in an overall decline in sleep or leisure time. Rather, mothers have made time for both work and family by sacrificing time spent doing housework and by increased "multitasking." Changing Rhythms of American Family Life finds that the total workload (in and out of the home) for employed parents is high for both sexes, with employed mothers averaging five hours more per week than employed fathers and almost nineteen hours more per week than homemaker mothers. Comparing average workloads of fathers with all mothers—both those in the paid workforce and homemakers—the authors find that there is gender equality in total workloads, as there has been since 1965. Overall, it appears that Americans have adapted to changing circumstances to ensure that they preserve their family time and provide adequately for their children. Changing Rhythms of American Family Life explodes many of the popular misconceptions about how Americans balance work and family. Though the iconic image of the American mother has changed from a docile homemaker to a frenzied, sleepless working mom, this important new volume demonstrates that the time mothers spend with their families has remained steady throughout the decades.
We worry putting our family first means we’ll be forced to abandon our careers. We’re afraid if we pause our careers, we’ll be forever off-track. This thinking is outdated—forget what you’ve heard about how pauses are career limiting, about how those who pause lack ambition, or that if you do pause you won’t be able to re-enter the paid workforce. That’s a flawed reality, one that doesn’t reflect the truth of the careers of some of the most successful women in this country.

Author Lisen Stromberg knows this success firsthand. After the birth of her second child, she did something she never imagined she would do: she opted out to focus on her family. But her career didn’t end there. Lisen paused then pivoted to become first a social entrepreneur and then an award-winning journalist writing about women, work, and life in Silicon Valley. Along the way, she learned she wasn’t alone. Lisen met many highly successful women who told her they never “opted out” but who had, in fact, temporarily downshifted or paused their careers. Their hidden journeys revealed alternative nonlinear paths to the top that enabled them to achieve their personal and professional goals.

In Work PAUSE Thrive, Lisen shares their stories. Deeply rooted in social science research, cutting-edge data collected from nearly 1,500 women, and through 186 first-person interviews, this book reveals how trailblazing women have disrupted the traditional career paradigm. What worked for them can work for you.

In this book, you’ll learn:
Who pauses, how they do it, and why
How pausing can enrich both your career and your life
How to innovate your own nonlinear career path
What we can—and need—to do as a society to make it possible for more people to achieve their personal and professional goals

Work PAUSE Thrive also reveals new and exciting trends in the workplace and offers targeted solutions for companies to help ensure they have cultures that will enable you to lead the life you want, a life in which you can build both a career and a family, and ultimately your own version of a life well lived.
A rallying cry for working mothers everywhere that demolishes the "distracted, emotional, weak" stereotype and definitively shows that these professionals are more focused, decisive, and stronger than any other force.

Working mothers aren’t a liability. They are assets you—and every manager and executive—want in your company, in your investment portfolio, and in your corner.

There is copious academic research showing the benefits of working mothers on families and the benefits to companies who give women longer and more flexible parental leave. There are even findings that demonstrate women with multiple children actually perform better at work than those with none or one.

Yet despite this concrete proof that working mothers are a lucrative asset, they still face the "Maternal Wall"—widespread unconscious bias about their abilities, contributions, and commitment. Nearly eighty percent of women are less likely to be hired if they have children—and are half as likely to be promoted. Mothers earn an average $11,000 less in salary and are held to higher punctuality and performance standards. Forty percent of Silicon Valley women said they felt the need to speak less about their family to be taken more seriously. Many have been told that having a second child would cost them a promotion.

Fortunately, this prejudice is slowly giving way to new attitudes, thanks to more women starting their own businesses, and companies like Netflix, Facebook, Apple, and Google implementing more parent-friendly policies. But the most important barrier to change isn’t about men. Women must rethink the way they see themselves after giving birth. As entrepreneur Sarah Lacy makes clear in this cogent, persuasive analysis and clarion cry, the strongest, most lucrative, and most ambitious time of a woman’s career may easily be after she sees a plus sign on a pregnancy test.

Parents' Jobs and Children's Lives considers the effects of parental working conditions on children's cognition and social development. It also investigates how parental work affects the home environments that parents create for their children, and how these home environments influence the children directly. The theoretical underpinnings of the book draw from both sociology and economics; in addition, the authors make use of literature derived from developmental psychology. Theoretically eclectic, they rely on the personality and social structure framework developed by Melvin Kohn and his colleagues, on arguments regarding the importance of family social capital developed by James Coleman, as well as on ideas from Gary Becker's "new home economics" as guides to model specification.

The empirical basis for Parcel and Menaghan's study is a series of multivariate analyses using data drawn from the 1986 and 1988 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey's Child-Mother data set. This data set matches longitudinal data on mothers, derived from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, with data on the children of these mothers born as of 1986. Children aged 3 to 6 were given age-appropriate developmental assessments every two years in order to assess the influence of parental work on short-term changes in their cognition and social behavior. The authors also devote considerable attention to the effects of fathers' work and family structure on the well-being of their children.

Parcel and Menaghan's work brings evidence to bear on both the theoretical perspectives guiding the analyses and on current policy debates regarding the nexus of work and family.

Instant National Bestseller

"Excellent." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Brotopia is more than a business book. Silicon Valley holds extraordinary power over our present lives as well as whatever utopia (or nightmare) might come next." --New York Times

Silicon Valley is a modern utopia where anyone can change the world. Unless you're a woman.

For women in tech, Silicon Valley is not a fantasyland of unicorns, virtual reality rainbows, and 3D-printed lollipops, where millions of dollars grow on trees. It's a "Brotopia," where men hold all the cards and make all the rules. Vastly outnumbered, women face toxic workplaces rife with discrimination and sexual harassment, where investors take meetings in hot tubs and network at sex parties.

In this powerful exposé, Bloomberg TV journalist Emily Chang reveals how Silicon Valley got so sexist despite its utopian ideals, why bro culture endures despite decades of companies claiming the moral high ground (Don't Be Evil! Connect the World!)--and how women are finally starting to speak out and fight back.

Drawing on her deep network of Silicon Valley insiders, Chang opens the boardroom doors of male-dominated venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins, the subject of Ellen Pao's high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit, and Sequoia, where a partner once famously said they "won't lower their standards" just to hire women. Interviews with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer--who got their start at Google, where just one in five engineers is a woman--reveal just how hard it is to crack the Silicon Ceiling. And Chang shows how women such as former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, entrepreneur Niniane Wang, and game developer Brianna Wu, have risked their careers and sometimes their lives to pave a way for other women.

Silicon Valley's aggressive, misogynistic, work-at-all costs culture has shut women out of the greatest wealth creation in the history of the world. It's time to break up the boys' club. Emily Chang shows us how to fix this toxic culture--to bring down Brotopia, once and for all.
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