On Our Book Shelf

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DSC_0208There are so many important books about work and family these days, we want to share our favorites with you in case you’re wondering where to dive in.

If  you’ve got a favorite that you think we should include on our list, let us know — just email lisa@familyforwardoregon.org.  Happy reading!

Babygate: What You Really Need to Know About Pregnancy and Parenting in the Workplace, by Dina Bakst, Phoebe Taubman and Elizabeth Gedmark

“Moms-to-be get tons of advice about what to eat, which stroller to buy, and how to get their bodies back after baby arrives. What’s missing is clear and comprehensive advice on how to keep their jobs during pregnancy and beyond. In Babygate, three legal experts share

practical tips, real-life stories from moms and dads, and key legal information to spotlight the protections expecting and new parents have (and don’t have) in the workplace. This step-by-step guide covers everything from morning sickness to maternity leave to confronting discrimination on the job. With a clear, often witty, interpretation of the law and various employment policies, the authors explain how workers can advocate for themselves and protect their jobs and paychecks while welcoming their little bundles of joy.

Babygate arms readers with valuable tools, including a Zagat-like guide on parents’ rights in each state. The authors also highlight how far the US lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to work-life policies and invite readers to join them in making America a more family-friendly nation. No baby shower is complete without it!”

Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter, by Joan Williams

“The United States has the most family-hostile public policy in the developed world. Despite what is often reported, new mothers don’t “opt out” of work. They are pushed out by discriminating and inflexible workplaces. Today’s workplaces continue to idealize the worker who has someone other than parents caring for their children.

Conventional wisdom attributes women’s decision to leave work to their maternal traits and desires. In this thought-provoking book, Joan Williams shows why that view is misguided and how workplace practice disadvantages men–both those who seek to avoid the breadwinner role and those who embrace it–as well as women. Faced with masculine norms that define the workplace, women must play the tomboy or the femme. Both paths result in a gender bias that is exacerbated when the two groups end up pitted against each other. And although work-family issues long have been seen strictly through a gender lens, we ignore class at our peril. The dysfunctional relationship between the professional-managerial class and the white working class must be addressed before real reform can take root.

Contesting the idea that women need to negotiate better within the family, and redefining the notion of success in the workplace, Williams reinvigorates the work-family debate and offers the first steps to making life manageable for all American families.”

The Motherhood Manifesto: What America’s Moms Want and What to Do About It, by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

“Women shouldn’t be discriminated against simply because they are mothers…but they are! The Motherhood Manifesto shares the heartfelt stories of mothers in America who dream of jobs with flexibility and benefits, mothers who can’t afford their children’s health and childcare expenses, and mothers who, time and time again, are penalized for raising a new generation. From professional women who hit the maternal wall, to childcare workers who can’t afford quality care for their own children, this book captures what it means to be a mother in America today. This groundbreaking book also celebrates the successes of companies that have discovered the value of good family policies, families who are making it work, model childcare programs, and legislation that supports families.”

The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era or Gender, Work & Family, by Kathleen Gerson

“Despite the entrance of women into the workforce and the blurring of once clearly defined gender boundaries, men and women live in a world where the demands of balancing parenting and work, autonomy and commitment, time and money are left largely unresolved. Gerson finds that while an overwhelming majority of young men and women see an egalitarian balance within committed relationships as the ideal, today’s social and economic realities remain based on conventional–and now obsolete–distinctions between breadwinning and caretaking. In this equity vacuum, men and women develop conflicting strategies, with women stressing self-reliance and men seeking a new traditionalism.

unfinishedrevolutionbookimageWith compassion for all perspectives, Gerson argues that whether one decides to give in to traditionally imbalanced relationships or to avoid marriage altogether, these approaches are second-best responses, not personal preferences or inherent attributes, and they will shift if new options can be created to help people achieve their egalitarian aspirations. The Unfinished Revolution offers clear recommendations for the kinds of workplace and community changes that would best bring about a more egalitarian family life–a new flexibility at work and at home that benefits families, encourages a thriving economy, and helps women and men integrate love and work.”

The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women, by Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels

“Taking readers on a provocative tour through thirty years of media images about mothers — the superficial achievements of celebrity moms, the sensational coverage of dangerous day care, the media-manufactured “mommy wars” between working mothers and stay-at-home moms, and more — The Mommy Myth contends that this “new momism” has been shaped by out-of-date mores, and that no matter how hard they try, women will never achieve it. In this must-read for every woman, Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels shatter the myth of the perfect mom and all but shout, “We’re not gonna take it anymore!””

The Custom Fit Workplace, by Nanette Fondas

“Work isn’t working. In a 24/7 work culture, leaving the office doesn’t necessarily mean leaving work. Men and women are struggling to balance work and life commitments: raising children, taking care of aging parents, or just making ends meet and taking care of themselves. At the same time, dual earning households are increasing in numbers, and many are having a difficult time returning to their jobs if they take time off.”

Work + Life: Finding the Fit that’s Right for You, by Cali Yost

worklifefitbookimage“The empowering new 3-step guide to combining work and life strategically, creatively, and successfully. The message is simple: Work doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are countless combinations of work and life between these extremes. People can change the way work fits into their lives, in a way that’s good for employees and employers. Work]Life provides the tools to adjust the work portion of life in order to have more time and/or energy for personal responsibilities and interests. Even a small change can make a big difference. Industry expert Cali Yost has been working with people on all sides of the issue: employees and managers at companies such as General Electric/NBC, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals, and Ernst & Young, and EAPs nationwide that help companies help their employees. They all say the same thing-Work+Life is the missing piece of the puzzle, putting readers on the cutting edge of the workplace revolution.”

TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, Edited by Samantha Parent Walravens

“Striking the right balance between career and motherhood is one of the most stressful, heart-wrenching tasks facing women today. In Torn, forty-six women examine the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work, and reveal creative solutions for having the best of both worlds. The stories in the collection offer hope and inspiration, but they also reveal the messy realities of modern motherhood and life’s inevitable crises, both small and large: from breast pump mishaps to battles with cancer; diaper blowouts to debilitating depression; competitive cupcake baking to coming home from war. In the end, the reader can take comfort in the knowledge that there is no perfect mother; nor is there a perfect balance when it comes to kids and career. The real challenge facing women today is not juggling their many roles, but realigning their expectations of what is possible and accepting that success does not equal “doing it all.”

Unfinished Work: Building Equality and Democracy in an Era of Working Families, by Jody Heymann and Christopher Beem

“While many aspects of work have changed dramatically over the last few decades, society has struggled to adapt, to the detriment of working families. Work schedules and demands continue to reflect a time when at least one parent stayed home, women remain underpaid relative to men on average, and public schools still base their hours on an agrarian calendar. Unfinished Work provides insights into why we have not yet seen an effective national response to the challenges faced by most working families in America today, and offers solutions from leading thinkers in the field across the disciplines of political science, sociology, economics, history, and public policy.”

Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth That We Can’t Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone, by Jody Heymann and Alison Earle

“News stories on the impact of job loss appear daily in the media. Less reported is that working conditions in many countries around the world have deteriorated as rapidly as jobs have been lost—and this affects ten times as many people. Working conditions significantly impact our health, the amount of time we can spend with family, our options during momentous life events (such as the birth of a child or the death of a parent), and whether we keep or lose a job when the unexpected occurs. Inexplicably, the global community has nearly universally accepted the argument that any country that guarantees a floor of decent working conditions will suffer higher unemployment and will be less competitive.

Raising the Global Floor shatters this widely held view by presenting the first ever, global analysis of the relationship between labor conditions, national competitiveness, and unemployment rates in 190 countries. The authors’ findings are dramatic. They show that there is no relationship between unemployment rates and providing basic protections in a series of critical areas. Strikingly, data also indicate that good working conditions can make countries more competitive. There are no long-term economic gains to be had if workers are denied paid sick leave, paid annual leave, paid parental leave, the right to a day of rest, and many other basic protections that would improve the quality of their lives.”

The Widening Gap: Why America’s Working Families Are in Jeopardy – and What Can Be Done About It, by Jody Heymann, MD, PhD

“This hard-hitting book draws on the first systematic national research on how the need to meet family obligations is affecting working Americans of all social classes and ethnic groups.”

The War Against Parents, by Sylvia Hewlett & Cornell West

waragainstparentsimage“Sylvia Ann Hewlett, a white feminist, and Cornel West, a black human rights activist, join in a rare partnership to address the burning social issue of our time: the abandonment of America’s parents. A “brave and personal book” (New York Post), The War Against Parents calls for a Parents’ bill of Rights that gives new dignity to the parental role and restores our nation’s commitment to the well-being of children.”

The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued, by Ann Crittenden

“In the pathbreaking tradition of Backlash and The Second Shift, this provocative book shows how mothers are systematically disadvantaged and made dependent by a society that exploits those who perform its most critical work. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and research in economics, history, child development, and law, Ann Crittenden proves definitively that although women have been liberated, mothers have not.”

Taking On the Big Boys: Or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business, and the Nation, by Ellen Bravo

“Bravo argues for feminism as a system of beliefs, laws, and practices that fully values women and work associated with women, while detailing activist strategies to achieve a society where everybody—women and men—reach their potential.”

The Maternal is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood & Social Change, edited by Shari MacDonald Strong

“Exploring the vital connection between motherhood and social change, The Maternal Is Political features forty-four powerful, hard-hitting literary essays by women who are striving to make the world a better place for children and families—both their own and other women’s—in this country and globally.”

The Politics of Parenthood: Child Care, Women’s Rights, and the Myth of the Good Mother, by Mary Frances Berry

“American society still clings to a family model in which child care is a woman’s responsibility. But this trailblazing book by a prominent historian and former official in the Carter administration suggests that behind the rhetoric of maternal responsibility are issues of power, resources, and control.”

 The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family, by Madeleine M. Kunin

“Feminists opened up thousands of doors in the 1960s and 1970s, but decades later, are U.S. women where they thought they’d be? The answer, it turns out, is a resounding no. Surely there have been gains. Women now comprise nearly 60 percent of college undergraduates and half of all medical and law students. They have entered the workforce in record numbers, making the two-wage-earner family the norm. But combining a career and family turned out to be more complicated than expected. While women changed, social structures surrounding work and family remained static. Affordable and high-quality child care, paid family leave, and equal pay for equal work remain elusive for the vast majority of working women. In fact, the nation has fallen far behind other parts of the world on the gender-equity front. We lag behind more than seventy countries when it comes to the percentage of women holding elected federal offices. Only 17 percent of corporate boards include women members. And just 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women.It’s time, says Madeleine M. Kunin, to change all that. Looking back over five decades of advocacy, she analyzes where progress stalled, looks at the successes of other countries, and charts the course for the next feminist revolution–one that mobilizes women, and men, to call for the kind of government and workplace policies that can improve the lives of women and strengthen their families.”

Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower, by Mary Ann Mason, Nicholas H. Wolfinger, and Marc Goulden

“The new generation of scholars differs in many ways from its predecessor of just a few decades ago. Academia once consisted largely of men in traditional single-earner families. Today, men and women fill the doctoral student ranks in nearly equal numbers and most will experience both the benefits and challenges of living in dual-income households. This generation also has new expectations and values, notably the desire for flexibility and balance between careers and other life goals. However, changes to the structure and culture of academia have not kept pace with young scholars’ desires for work-family balance.

Do Babies Matter? is the first comprehensive examination of the relationship between family formation and the academic careers of men and women. The book begins with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, moves on to early and mid-career years, and ends with retirement. Individual chapters examine graduate school, how recent Ph.D. recipients get into the academic game, the tenure process, and life after tenure. The authors explore the family sacrifices women often have to make to get ahead in academia and consider how gender and family interact to affect promotion to full professor, salaries, and retirement. Concrete strategies are suggested for transforming the university into a family-friendly environment at every career stage.”

You can download our June 2016 Books We Love list right here.

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