My friend Anna Leahy suggested Get to Work: . . . And Get a Life, Before It’s Too Late to me awhile back when I was blogging about work-mother balance. I was a bit wary of the book after reading the reviews, but I’m so glad that I bought it anyways (used for $.01–what a deal!)…
As a result of my reading most of this slim book this evening, we had a pretty heated discussion around the dinner table about the concessions that women tend make in their careers because of spouse and family. I find Hirshman’s argument quite compelling, that women need to choose early on to have careers so they have more choices later in their life (instead of being dependent on a spouse and having only-marginal employability). She points out that our society needs to change to make home-work more balanced between spouses and that there is much work that can be done on the political front to give women more leverage in the workforce. But her larger point is that for the most part women forgo successful and satisfying careers willingly–and that is what needs to change before men take a larger role at home and before the social policies favor women who work outside the home.
Perhaps what was most satisfying about the discussion around the dinnertable was when the kids acknowledged how crazy I was back when I was a stay-at-home Mom and how happy they saw me become after I went back to school and began teaching. And while I don’t necessarily regret any of my choices over the years (I’ve always done the best I could), I began to wonder how my life would have been different if I’d made career aspirations a more important part of decision-making–I wouldn’t have gotten a PhD in History if I was thinking about my long-term employability, that’s for sure. I probably would have focused my aims on medical science, as I did when I was an undergraduate. And while I don’t think I would have necessarily been any happier if I’d had a career earlier on in my life, I suspect that if I did I could have avoided those awful years of depression that resulted from being financially dependent on a spouse who no longer wanted to be married.
Soon I’ll be scheduling a Book Club to discuss the Hirshman book along with The Price of Motherhood. If you’re interested in joining in, we’ll have an “in real life” meeting with those of you who are local to SoCal as well as a “virtual” bookchat over skype. Fill out THIS FORM if you’d like to join in the discussion and I’ll send you a follow-up email to arrange the timing that works best (note: form responses will only be viewed by me and I won’t send you any emails except to arrange this Book Club).