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The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know about Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life

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A big idea self-help book about the decisions that shape women's lives, in the vein of Designing Your Life What happens to women's ambition in the years after college? The essays which were the catalyst for this book began as a series for the Atlantic, a project between two friends who had attended Northwestern University together in the early 1990s. What became of all the A big idea self-help book about the decisions that shape women's lives, in the vein of Designing Your Life What happens to women's ambition in the years after college? The essays which were the catalyst for this book began as a series for the Atlantic, a project between two friends who had attended Northwestern University together in the early 1990s. What became of all the brilliant, hardworking women from their college days, they wondered as they shared work and family woes and triumphs over a glass of wine one evening. What did life look like for other midcareer, midlife women? The data Schank and Wallace culled from the group of women they interviewed--over forty of them in all--revealed a surprisingly clear road map, with consistencies and pitfalls the authors hadn't expected to find. The women fell into one of three categories: high achievers, those who were scaling back, and those who'd opted out. But, most important, no one woman stuck to a single track in the twenty-five years since graduation. Our culture and the popular media might seek to pin women into boxes, but real life is in fact more fluid. Those common moments of transition, crisis, and achievement reaped rich insights and strategies. Tackling topics like the changing meaning of ambition, the near-lethal combination of modern parenting and a 24/7 work culture, and what sexism in the workplace does and doesn't look like, the issues here are perennially topical. A love letter to a new generation of working women or anyone at a crossroads, from women who set out to rule the world and stumbled into various permutations of their best lives, The Ambition Decisions pinpoints the variables that push women toward making big decisions, and make those decisions easier.


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A big idea self-help book about the decisions that shape women's lives, in the vein of Designing Your Life What happens to women's ambition in the years after college? The essays which were the catalyst for this book began as a series for the Atlantic, a project between two friends who had attended Northwestern University together in the early 1990s. What became of all the A big idea self-help book about the decisions that shape women's lives, in the vein of Designing Your Life What happens to women's ambition in the years after college? The essays which were the catalyst for this book began as a series for the Atlantic, a project between two friends who had attended Northwestern University together in the early 1990s. What became of all the brilliant, hardworking women from their college days, they wondered as they shared work and family woes and triumphs over a glass of wine one evening. What did life look like for other midcareer, midlife women? The data Schank and Wallace culled from the group of women they interviewed--over forty of them in all--revealed a surprisingly clear road map, with consistencies and pitfalls the authors hadn't expected to find. The women fell into one of three categories: high achievers, those who were scaling back, and those who'd opted out. But, most important, no one woman stuck to a single track in the twenty-five years since graduation. Our culture and the popular media might seek to pin women into boxes, but real life is in fact more fluid. Those common moments of transition, crisis, and achievement reaped rich insights and strategies. Tackling topics like the changing meaning of ambition, the near-lethal combination of modern parenting and a 24/7 work culture, and what sexism in the workplace does and doesn't look like, the issues here are perennially topical. A love letter to a new generation of working women or anyone at a crossroads, from women who set out to rule the world and stumbled into various permutations of their best lives, The Ambition Decisions pinpoints the variables that push women toward making big decisions, and make those decisions easier.

30 review for The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know about Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Crista Colvin

    Learned of this book while listening to one of my favorite personal finance podcasts and really wanted to like it. While the authors do a decent job of highlighting the work-life balance issues posed by the modern-day working world, the book speaks only to a small set of very privileged women. This makes sense, as their "data pool" consisted only of their Northwestern sorority sisters, most of whom graduated in the 1990s, before the dating world imploded. Unfortunately, the book almost entirely Learned of this book while listening to one of my favorite personal finance podcasts and really wanted to like it. While the authors do a decent job of highlighting the work-life balance issues posed by the modern-day working world, the book speaks only to a small set of very privileged women. This makes sense, as their "data pool" consisted only of their Northwestern sorority sisters, most of whom graduated in the 1990s, before the dating world imploded. Unfortunately, the book almost entirely ignores the existence of single parents and single women generally. In addition, the authors seem to forget that people without spouses or children also struggle with work-life balance, as the working world sometimes seems to demand even more of these individuals. Despite their privilege, the women profiled in the book appear ever-dissatisfied with their abundant lives, and compulsively strive. Truth be told, the women are rock stars, but many have lost perspective, forgetting the plight of most people. The authors also appear to frown upon any woman who does not place career at No. 1, and on women who have not been successful in obtaining greater involvement from their spouses. Authors, consider that such demands might have gone unheard. If you are a busy, female, Ivy-League-adjacent grad with a supportive spouse and the need to be the best, this book is for you. If not, perhaps we should wait for the second edition.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dayna Solomon

    I am finding this book to be one of the more thought provoking books I've read in a long while. It's both validating AND inspiring, allowing me to feel good about where my ambition has brought me thus far, yet also bringing to light where some of my ambition has waned along the way - and how I can fix that. This book illuminates how you truly can tweak your path to fit your life at any moment - and it doesn't have to mean a major life over-haul. If you've had shifting visions of what you think y I am finding this book to be one of the more thought provoking books I've read in a long while. It's both validating AND inspiring, allowing me to feel good about where my ambition has brought me thus far, yet also bringing to light where some of my ambition has waned along the way - and how I can fix that. This book illuminates how you truly can tweak your path to fit your life at any moment - and it doesn't have to mean a major life over-haul. If you've had shifting visions of what you think you ought to be doing in both your career and personal life for fulfillment, and wonder if what you are doing is good enough, or ambitious enough, this book will speak to you.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mythili

    Anecdotal sociology framed in a self-help-y rubric. This has all the rigor of an Atlantic think piece, but I found it interesting to hear what a variety women in their mid-40s have to say about the working/parenting life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I have a nearly insatiable appetite for meditations on feminism and work-life balance, but this book didn’t offer anything as insightful or revolutionary as its authors thought it did. Indeed, I don’t know many women who haven’t had the same kinds of conversations as those recounted here with their own friends on many occasions. Moreover, there is a certain self-congratulatory tone that pops up in several places. They speak of themselves and their Northwestern sorority sisters as though they are I have a nearly insatiable appetite for meditations on feminism and work-life balance, but this book didn’t offer anything as insightful or revolutionary as its authors thought it did. Indeed, I don’t know many women who haven’t had the same kinds of conversations as those recounted here with their own friends on many occasions. Moreover, there is a certain self-congratulatory tone that pops up in several places. They speak of themselves and their Northwestern sorority sisters as though they are uniquely talented and brilliant and their stories can serve as a model and road map for everyone else. And their generalizations irked me because they were often completely self-evident (partners need to discuss their household division of labor) or insultingly, well, general (women don’t feel comfortable talking about money). All in all, a miss for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gabbi Levy

    My interview with Hana Schank: IN 2012, HANA SCHANK and Elizabeth Wallace were 20 years out of college, but both found themselves at a crossroads in their careers. Both women, friends from their time together at Northwestern University, were successful and happily married with children – but wondered why they didn't feel more fulfilled. They recalled a conversation they'd had in college with a group of their sorority sisters about their lofty ambitions – dreaming about becoming Cabinet secretaries My interview with Hana Schank: IN 2012, HANA SCHANK and Elizabeth Wallace were 20 years out of college, but both found themselves at a crossroads in their careers. Both women, friends from their time together at Northwestern University, were successful and happily married with children – but wondered why they didn't feel more fulfilled. They recalled a conversation they'd had in college with a group of their sorority sisters about their lofty ambitions – dreaming about becoming Cabinet secretaries, high-powered lawyers and opera stars – and wondered how those women's lives had shaken out. Eventually, they talked to nearly all of the women in their sorority's graduating class for a series of essays in The Atlantic that eventually became "The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family and the Path to Building a Life." Schank recently spoke with U.S. News about the choices women make. Excerpts: We traditionally think of ambition as wanting to achieve the traditional measures of success – the desire to climb the corporate ladder, or acquire money, power or fame – but you suggest it should be more broadly defined. What did you find ambition means for the women you interviewed? There's this very traditional view of ambition in society, which is that you're ambitious in your career, period, end of story, and that if you do not have this very fancy-looking career, you must not be an ambitious person. What we learned in interviewing our friends was that there are actually many, many different ways to direct ambition. We spoke with people who might be stay-at-home moms or might have either scaled back careers or careers where they have stayed in one spot for a period of time and chosen not to move up because they wanted to direct their ambition in other ways. They might be interested in being a really ambitious parent and being really hands on and making great lunches for their kids and being there at 3 o'clock to meet the school bus. We had one friend who is a teacher so she could have the summers off because she loves birds and she volunteers for the National Park Service to count birds. You might want to direct your ambition into hiking, or living in a great place, or volunteering in an animal shelter. There is this classic definition of ambition being something that is publicly recognized. You get that in your career: When you move up, you're getting that public recognition that you did something, the "yay for you!" that you really don't get that in the other areas, but that doesn't make you not ambitious. Part of the premise of the book is that all of the women you spoke with were obviously deeply ambitious in college, but not all of them went on to have high-powered careers. Were the women as likely to be satisfied with their lives if they had succeeded in getting those traditional ambitions than those who ended up staying at home with kids? We found our friends falling into three trajectories we called the High-Achievers, the Opt-Outers, and the other was this group that we labeled the Flex-Lifers. Of those three groups, the High-Achievers came across as the least conflicted. They had chosen to channel all their ambition into their career, and they had arranged the other pieces of their lives to allow them to do that. Whether they were not married, didn't have children or were married to someone who stayed at home, their work was a primary focus, and that primary focus gave them a lot of satisfaction because they were rewarded at work, they were promoted, they were financially rewarded, they had people at work saying, "Good job, we like you," and that really provided them with a good sense of self. For the others, if you stay at home or if you have chosen to plateau your career so you can do other things, by the very definition of those paths, you're more scattered and have other things going on, so you're sort of more scattered instead of getting this positive feedback loop, so that was more of a challenge for people. Even though women have come a long way toward achieving equality in American society, women who prioritize their careers over their families still get criticized. How did the High-Achievers in your group handle that? I think we went into this expecting it to find that, because that's the trope you see in the movies in the media, that if you have this superstar career but you never get to see your kids, you're actually a terrible mother – but we didn't find that at all. The High-Achievers who had demanding careers felt like what they were doing was very important for their children. They felt like they were providing for their families, they felt like they were being good role models and even though they might have less hands-on time with their kids, they felt that the time that they had, they were 100 percent focused on their kids. Of course they miss things and they felt guilt over missing things, but we all miss things, whatever we're doing. They were also very good at establishing boundaries, and were able to say, "Realistically, here are the ways I can be a parent." By setting expectations for themselves and also for their children, they didn't disappoint anyone and they didn't feel guilt or didn't feel overwhelming guilt at the things that they were missing. We have one person who is very senior at a bank and also managed to coach her children's math team, so I don't think she felt guilt, because I think she felt she was doing pretty good. We also had somebody who is a pediatrician who actually was a part-time pediatrician but felt a lot of guilt around that she would go to drop-off and she didn't really know the mothers, and they would all hang out together and she didn't know them. Read the rest of the interview here.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luiza

    This is a book for a very narrow audience: it’s for women, it’s for privileged women, it’s for privileged women who can afford going to a very very very good college — and the authors mention that from the beginning of the book, so you’re not misguided here. Ans still... this was exactly what I needed to read now — not because the book gives you answers, but because it brings you the same questions you’re making. And by telling different stories of how a variety of women handled those life challe This is a book for a very narrow audience: it’s for women, it’s for privileged women, it’s for privileged women who can afford going to a very very very good college — and the authors mention that from the beginning of the book, so you’re not misguided here. Ans still... this was exactly what I needed to read now — not because the book gives you answers, but because it brings you the same questions you’re making. And by telling different stories of how a variety of women handled those life challenges, how they had made choices, how they even don’t know some of the answers yet, the book gives you a very valuable treasure of knowing you’re not alone, and helps you collecting “data” (a very biased data, but that you already know) for you to build you own answer to those questions. For me reading this book was an excellent example of how reading can be a magical match of people and time: it was perfect for my needs now, but it might now be for other people — or even for the “me” of some years ago, when those worries were not present on my life.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    A really interesting, fast-paced book about women, work, and how ambition works its way through one's life. It takes a narrow cross section of the population, so I would have loved to see a wider lens, but it still felt relevant to me personally and so was definitely worth a read. A really interesting, fast-paced book about women, work, and how ambition works its way through one's life. It takes a narrow cross section of the population, so I would have loved to see a wider lens, but it still felt relevant to me personally and so was definitely worth a read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    EJ

    Here is my disclaimer: I don't like self-help books and this felt like one. So, if you enjoy those types of books, you may really enjoy this one. For me, I felt like this book didn't contain any information that anyone who has graduated from college and lived a life into her 40s doesn't already have. There was simply nothing useful to me in this book, and I felt like I wasted my time by reading it. I would have stopped 50 pages in if it wasn't a book club book. Here is my disclaimer: I don't like self-help books and this felt like one. So, if you enjoy those types of books, you may really enjoy this one. For me, I felt like this book didn't contain any information that anyone who has graduated from college and lived a life into her 40s doesn't already have. There was simply nothing useful to me in this book, and I felt like I wasted my time by reading it. I would have stopped 50 pages in if it wasn't a book club book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This is more like a 2.5 for me but I'm rounding up. This is more like a 2.5 for me but I'm rounding up.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    At this point, this small study, that reads easy as if multiple similar biographies, was largely validating, confirming ideas I have come to after reflection, study, and thought; however, I would highly recommend this to college women and women considering heterosexual marriage and/or children (i.e. mostly helpful and insightful to the under 30/35 crowd). That said, validation is ok, too, if the reality is not utterly disappointing and discouraging: “While there are now....groups that help women At this point, this small study, that reads easy as if multiple similar biographies, was largely validating, confirming ideas I have come to after reflection, study, and thought; however, I would highly recommend this to college women and women considering heterosexual marriage and/or children (i.e. mostly helpful and insightful to the under 30/35 crowd). That said, validation is ok, too, if the reality is not utterly disappointing and discouraging: “While there are now....groups that help women.. statistics remain bleak on the prospects for middle-aged women finding those money jobs in today’s workforce. ...Middle-aged women’s resumes are overlooked based on age alone...with women over fifty accounting for half of the long-term unemployed.” However, “There is a power conferred on women in their forties, a liberation upon realizing that, in ways both large and small, your life is your own to live, and that you can get divorced, get a job, or get a tattoo, and the world will not fall apart.” Not so long ago, especially still in the ‘70s, but even into the ‘80s and to the present, it has been hard, as a woman, to not follow someone else’s rules (e.g. parent pleasers), or social pressures/relationships. Also, the discussion surrounding passion vs economics vs your gifts was compelling- “the satisfaction of a job well done” vs some deep-rooted passion. While not discussed in terms of cultural societal changes, women have, and continue to have, difficult decisions and consequences surrounding the career-marriage-parenting trifecta. Until more men realize women can’t earn the money and care for them and the family effectively and employers and society support those men and women raising children, I expect the struggle will continue.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Listened via friend's audible. I was told by two friends I must read this book. As a mother balancing her own business and being a mom, this book was exactly what I needed to hear. But you know what? I also needed to hear this book when I was just working after college. And then I needed to hear it again when I became a full time mom. And I will probably need to hear it again in a few years when I will be who knows where! If you need to be convinced, read the last chapter of this book first. The Listened via friend's audible. I was told by two friends I must read this book. As a mother balancing her own business and being a mom, this book was exactly what I needed to hear. But you know what? I also needed to hear this book when I was just working after college. And then I needed to hear it again when I became a full time mom. And I will probably need to hear it again in a few years when I will be who knows where! If you need to be convinced, read the last chapter of this book first. The authors lay it all out for you. There is no judgement in this book - no "this person is better than another." This is just about us - women - who constantly struggle with doing the best we can do and becoming the best people we can become regardless of what that means. I do hope the authors a) follow up on their friends in another 10 years because I would love to know how things change and b) start speaking out more about this! I personally would love to sit down with them and discuss...but first my book club will be discussing in a few weeks. I can't wait! Conclusion: A must read for any woman who is between the years of graduating college and retirement :) Moms, non-moms, working, non-working - everyone should hear the things said in this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristiana

    25 years after graduating from Northwestern, the authors decide to interview their sorority sisters and look at what paths they chose after college. They saw parallels emerging from their sisters vastly different life choices: high achieving women who prioritized career over family, women who chose to opt out of careers and those who split time between home and work with more flexible schedules. Each woman chose, and continues to choose, what is best for her in her particular life stage. We all m 25 years after graduating from Northwestern, the authors decide to interview their sorority sisters and look at what paths they chose after college. They saw parallels emerging from their sisters vastly different life choices: high achieving women who prioritized career over family, women who chose to opt out of careers and those who split time between home and work with more flexible schedules. Each woman chose, and continues to choose, what is best for her in her particular life stage. We all make choices of what and how we will achieve our goals and dreams and how we will prioritize the rest of our lives around those things. It is comforting and encouraging to read about the choices these women made and to see that nothing is set in stone. We can change our direction and set a new course anytime along the way. The authors do a good job discussing how the distribution of chores at home is not alway easy and the emotional labor women tend to carry for their families regardless of their jobs outsider the home. The book is an analysis of what women have been told about having it all and balancing everything, Lean In and Drop the Ball, and showing us that we have options. Life doesn’t have to look just one way, or stay that way forever.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth Harper

    Reading this book was extremely thought-provoking, validating and inspired me to make some pretty pivotal decisions about how I want my life to look like that surprised even myself. With that being said, this book does not come without its issues. The writers here examine how the lives of their now middle-aged sorority sisters from Northwestern University have shaped out focusing on career and family. It’s basically a collection of anecdotes of how different women manage their work/life balance, Reading this book was extremely thought-provoking, validating and inspired me to make some pretty pivotal decisions about how I want my life to look like that surprised even myself. With that being said, this book does not come without its issues. The writers here examine how the lives of their now middle-aged sorority sisters from Northwestern University have shaped out focusing on career and family. It’s basically a collection of anecdotes of how different women manage their work/life balance, mainly focusing on the shift that careers can take when women have children. While many of the anecdotes were inspiring, I found the collection as a whole a bit skewed as it only focuses on already highly-ambitious and mostly affluent women (obviously not everyone can get into/afford Northwestern University). When talking about women (and some men) who decide to take a break from their careers and stay home with their children, a big piece that was missing from the conversation was the issue of finances. Working was largely presented as a choice that obviously not everyone has. A wide range of family models and career trajectories were represented, however it would have greatly benefited more from having interviews with people who don’t have a prestigious Alma Mater on their resume. Additionally, when bringing up topics such as the pay gender gap and emotional labor I would have liked to see more of an examination of these issues and a conversation about how we can work to change these systemic problems. Overall a good read if you’re finding yourself struggling with work/life balance issues as it can get the wheels turning a bit!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annette Taylor

    So it is less than a 4*; but better than a 3*; so not sure which way to go with it. It really didn't provide any eye opening information. It's informative and somewhat self-affirming but nothing really new. although instead of having a hunch, they sort of qualified the lives of 43 "career"? women. Although these are highly intelligent women, my hunch is that they are somewhat indicative of any group of college-educated women. It's nice to have a term for women and men who decide for whatever rea So it is less than a 4*; but better than a 3*; so not sure which way to go with it. It really didn't provide any eye opening information. It's informative and somewhat self-affirming but nothing really new. although instead of having a hunch, they sort of qualified the lives of 43 "career"? women. Although these are highly intelligent women, my hunch is that they are somewhat indicative of any group of college-educated women. It's nice to have a term for women and men who decide for whatever reasons to prioritize family over career--flexors. I also liked that they found people can and do hop on/off a specific career path. Maybe the most important info though, is their conclusion on passion and how some have true passion for their career and use their drive and "like" of their career to perhaps build or channel their passion somewhere else. Not overly enlightening but certainly interesting in its anecdotal way.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Schulman

    It was really nice to read a book about women juggling work marriage and parenting that included a variety of experiences – not just affluent stay at home moms with PhD’s or NYC/Bay Area women who write from home. To be fair, as the authors are just interviewing there sorority sisters, primarily white primarily heterosexual women that went to a private college in the 90s, we are getting a pretty mainstream crowd. But the women are honest, often more honest than we are with our own friends, and i It was really nice to read a book about women juggling work marriage and parenting that included a variety of experiences – not just affluent stay at home moms with PhD’s or NYC/Bay Area women who write from home. To be fair, as the authors are just interviewing there sorority sisters, primarily white primarily heterosexual women that went to a private college in the 90s, we are getting a pretty mainstream crowd. But the women are honest, often more honest than we are with our own friends, and it’s interesting to see literally every experience explored with the idea that who you said out to be at 22 is not always who you are at 42. And sometimes that’s OK, and sometimes that’s frustrating. And sometimes your husband is very supportive, and sometimes you want to kill him. And sometimes you love your job and sometimes you hate your job. And sometimes you love being a mom and sometimes you hate it. More like a support group then a teach-in.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    The authors went to Northwestern and in seeing their sorority sisters periodically after college, they realized that everyone always thought the other person "had it all" depending on whether they were high-level executives, stay at home moms or worked part-time. They then tried to interview about 40 or 50 of their sorority sisters who graduated in their year (about 1988) to talk about the work and family choices they made, how they felt about the choices and how they generally felt about their The authors went to Northwestern and in seeing their sorority sisters periodically after college, they realized that everyone always thought the other person "had it all" depending on whether they were high-level executives, stay at home moms or worked part-time. They then tried to interview about 40 or 50 of their sorority sisters who graduated in their year (about 1988) to talk about the work and family choices they made, how they felt about the choices and how they generally felt about their lives. I thought it was interesting but I mostly wanted to read about the people who made my choice. I read the first sections, then skipped the sections about me and have yet to finish it 5 weeks later. Like many non-fiction books, it might have been a REALLY good long magazine piece.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This book looked at how a group of women navigated their lives and challenges post-university. Granted, it’s an uncommon and elite group of women- all from a sorority at a prestigious university- so their stories are not everyone’s stories. Still, it was interesting to see how these women handled the expectations to “have it all” as modern women. Whether they focused on career, or family, or some combination of the two, each one handled it in a unique way. What I found most intriguing (perhaps b This book looked at how a group of women navigated their lives and challenges post-university. Granted, it’s an uncommon and elite group of women- all from a sorority at a prestigious university- so their stories are not everyone’s stories. Still, it was interesting to see how these women handled the expectations to “have it all” as modern women. Whether they focused on career, or family, or some combination of the two, each one handled it in a unique way. What I found most intriguing (perhaps because it is such a taboo topic) was the talk around money and finances- whether salary negotiations or power structure in a non-traditional hetero couple, where the woman is the primary breadwinner.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This book very much resonated with me. I recognize that I am probably in its prime demographic - white, college-educated, mid-forties - although I do think there are some good nuggets of wisdom and perspective that could be appreciated by others as well. The stories made me examine my own life and career and the decisions I've made along the way - some that were very much intentional, others that I sort of fell into and allowed to happen. It also made me think about what I want out of the next s This book very much resonated with me. I recognize that I am probably in its prime demographic - white, college-educated, mid-forties - although I do think there are some good nuggets of wisdom and perspective that could be appreciated by others as well. The stories made me examine my own life and career and the decisions I've made along the way - some that were very much intentional, others that I sort of fell into and allowed to happen. It also made me think about what I want out of the next stage of my life. I've recommended this to others who are having this discussion about what kind of life and career they want for themselves and their families.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    Nothing new here, but put together in an easy to read anecdotal style, based on the work-life histories of one year-class of women from a prestigious US college. As journalists, the authors seem to think they are doing groundbreaking work but are really "re-inventing the wheel" as there is stacks of academic research with bigger and more diverse samples reporting similar conclusions. Probably best suited to young women in their early 20s - everyone older already knows this stuff and would be nod Nothing new here, but put together in an easy to read anecdotal style, based on the work-life histories of one year-class of women from a prestigious US college. As journalists, the authors seem to think they are doing groundbreaking work but are really "re-inventing the wheel" as there is stacks of academic research with bigger and more diverse samples reporting similar conclusions. Probably best suited to young women in their early 20s - everyone older already knows this stuff and would be nodding their heads in agreement as reading. A word of advice. It's clearer than ever - pick your life partner very carefully.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Don't expect a rigorous, academic-style research piece - the conclusions tend to be more anecdoctal, based on general trends gathered from the 40+ interviews they did. Nevertheless, I found the stories and general conclusions to be validating, insightful, and thought-provoking, and especially relevant for college-educated females trying to navigate life, work and family. Anyone who's ever had a quarter life or mid life crisis would relate to it. I'm also making my husband read the book as I feel Don't expect a rigorous, academic-style research piece - the conclusions tend to be more anecdoctal, based on general trends gathered from the 40+ interviews they did. Nevertheless, I found the stories and general conclusions to be validating, insightful, and thought-provoking, and especially relevant for college-educated females trying to navigate life, work and family. Anyone who's ever had a quarter life or mid life crisis would relate to it. I'm also making my husband read the book as I feel that the book does a really good job of articulating female thought processes and motivations which I never could really put into words myself.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mallory Kasdan

    This book is so thoughtful and encouraging. The authors, Wallace and Schank, really want to understand where they are in their lives in terms of work, family, and satisfaction, and to acknowledge the idea of "is this it?" for women of a certain age. I loved the humor and self deprecation combined with truth telling from their group of friends. Women of all ages need to know what is in front of them, as well as who came before them. This is true feminism right here -- breaking down what equality This book is so thoughtful and encouraging. The authors, Wallace and Schank, really want to understand where they are in their lives in terms of work, family, and satisfaction, and to acknowledge the idea of "is this it?" for women of a certain age. I loved the humor and self deprecation combined with truth telling from their group of friends. Women of all ages need to know what is in front of them, as well as who came before them. This is true feminism right here -- breaking down what equality means for women who came of age expecting to have it all -- whatever "it" is!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Interesting to compare the 1990 book “The Second Shift” on the status of women’s careers at that time with this update on the careers of a group of GenX private college graduates now in their 40s. Many gains have been made and women today have much more flexibility in their work lives. Unfortunately the gender gap in the workplace is still quite large and most mothers still carry most of the home and childcare tasks in addition to full time work. Women are overwhelmed but still refuse to let go Interesting to compare the 1990 book “The Second Shift” on the status of women’s careers at that time with this update on the careers of a group of GenX private college graduates now in their 40s. Many gains have been made and women today have much more flexibility in their work lives. Unfortunately the gender gap in the workplace is still quite large and most mothers still carry most of the home and childcare tasks in addition to full time work. Women are overwhelmed but still refuse to let go at home and ask their husbands to share in home and parenting tasks.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Petronio

    Wow, this was fantastic. Two women in their 40s went back and interviewed their ambitious sorority sisters to see where their lives have taken them. Classified into three categories: high achievers, opt-outers and flex-lifers. What’s fascinating is how these women have all kept their ambitious, yet have made their own paths, switching tracks and adjusting as their life goals have changed. Definitely a book to share with women that are struggling to find their path, attempting to harmonize career Wow, this was fantastic. Two women in their 40s went back and interviewed their ambitious sorority sisters to see where their lives have taken them. Classified into three categories: high achievers, opt-outers and flex-lifers. What’s fascinating is how these women have all kept their ambitious, yet have made their own paths, switching tracks and adjusting as their life goals have changed. Definitely a book to share with women that are struggling to find their path, attempting to harmonize career, relationship, children, volunteerism & other passions.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    I tempered my expectations of this from the start— at points I was literally raising my eyebrows at the book with the unrelatable struggles of having to hire a nanny on the west AND east coast or demolishing your house just so that you can rebuild from scratch. But having done that, I still found this interesting and worthwhile, especially the chapters on marriage and parenting. The one on change was least valuable to me, but this could really just stem from not just yet being able to appreciate I tempered my expectations of this from the start— at points I was literally raising my eyebrows at the book with the unrelatable struggles of having to hire a nanny on the west AND east coast or demolishing your house just so that you can rebuild from scratch. But having done that, I still found this interesting and worthwhile, especially the chapters on marriage and parenting. The one on change was least valuable to me, but this could really just stem from not just yet being able to appreciate the looming sensation of an impending mid-life crisis.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I can't say I got a lot from this book. It can be interesting to hear different stories about how women navigate careers, partners, and parenthood, and I suppose it can be somewhat vindicating to hear it reiterated that it's the wife/mother (even if she has a full-time career) who tends to be in charge of all things domestic. But there were no new powerful insights for me here, aside from the occasional moment where I thought, "Hmm. Yes, that sounds familiar." I can't say I got a lot from this book. It can be interesting to hear different stories about how women navigate careers, partners, and parenthood, and I suppose it can be somewhat vindicating to hear it reiterated that it's the wife/mother (even if she has a full-time career) who tends to be in charge of all things domestic. But there were no new powerful insights for me here, aside from the occasional moment where I thought, "Hmm. Yes, that sounds familiar."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I liked reading this and found it somewhat useful, but only because I fall into the narrow, narrow (did I mention narrow? and privileged!) demographic slice for whom it has any relevance. Racism, sexism, singledom, rural-dwelling, being married to a man who's not an ibanker: Such challenges are granted no more than passing mention. But as long as none of those apply, there are interesting case studies about other women like you pondering how to be their best selves. I liked reading this and found it somewhat useful, but only because I fall into the narrow, narrow (did I mention narrow? and privileged!) demographic slice for whom it has any relevance. Racism, sexism, singledom, rural-dwelling, being married to a man who's not an ibanker: Such challenges are granted no more than passing mention. But as long as none of those apply, there are interesting case studies about other women like you pondering how to be their best selves.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    I’d say between a 3.4 and 4. The writing was good and it’s interesting to learn about different women’s career paths after college, particularly after they had children. Eventually some of the stories felt like too many people to keep track of in the later chapters (or maybe reading this before bed didn’t help with concentration). It’s one I’d recommend to my working mom friends and stay at home mom friends I went to college with.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cherylhuntperry

    I really enjoyed this book. Super relatable and thought-provoking. Although the target audience for this book is middle-aged women, It wouldn’t make a bad high school graduation gift - I wish I would’ve thought of some of these things 20 years ago! :-) But a great book for a woman in her 40s as well! Highly recommend!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fushia Featherstone

    Although I am unlikely to be in the same earning sphere as most of these women, the struggles feel the same. It was great to read what the likely paths are if I go this way or that and how to have those tough conversations with spouses and family about the great labour divide. Definitely a book to take notes from.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sid

    The authors interviewed their classmates to discuss their life paths over the past two decades. Interesting observations are made, especially the chapter on parenting. The book came up short for me, after a while the stories were a bit repetitive and too detailed to draw any general conclusions.

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