13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2010
The subtitle of "Getting To 50/50" by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober is How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All, so just in case you didn't catch it in the title, you know exactly where this book is going. As a working parent I'm also inspired by the stories of how others make it work, and the pedigree of the authors peaked my curiosity -- Meers is a former MD at Goldman Sachs and Strober is an MD at a Silicon Valley private equity firm.
The book is not a how-to for those struggling to make the dual-career + kids formula work , but rather it's an argument for why it's better if you go this route. The comments from working fathers were comforting. The statistics throughout the book were interesting -- I especially was surprised that the percentage of women who work in v. out of the home stays roughly constant across income demographics (I had assumed it would be higher as household income increases). I was hoping for more examples of how people make the juggle work and not just reasons why you should. The book, while comprehensive, seems more appropriate as a baby shower gift to couples struggling with the question of 2 careers v 1 or perhaps for the reading list of a college course. For working parents who have already made the decision to go for it, there is the we-are-not-alone benefit but little by the way of practical tips. I would have loved to see a few day-in-the-life examples of Meers and Strober's juggle.
That said, I was glad that I read it for its comprehensive dive into what can be a very polarizing issue. If you're part of a working couple that is on the fence about staying 2 incomes v 1, I highly recommend it. If you're interested in general business/ market trends, there is enough research and statistics to placate you and it's an important subject. If you've made up your mind about making it a go and looking for tips to make it easier, you will find some but not many here -- I'd save this read for when you're questioning your decision and want the comfort that dual career + kids is a good thing.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2009
This is a really well written book that pulls together a lot of sociological research from trusted sources. Its thesis is an exciting : kids whose mothers work do just as well in school and life as those who stay at home, and kids whose fathers are integrally involved in their lives do much better than those who aren't. Finally, an antidote to working mother guilt. In addition, there's lots of good strategies for negotiating balance between parents and at work. I recommend it to anyone who wants both a productive work life and nuturing home life.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2009
This is a very well done book. I am a 40-something female graduate of one of the top-ranked law schools and former partner in a large law firm. Having grown up in a patriarchal family that did not respect women and that did not communicate well with children, and being the first woman in my family to pursue paid employment and take responsibility for myself financially, I have not married or had children in part because of internal conflict and fear about how to do it in a way that did not leave me (a) not working and thus dependent and probably forced into deference or passivity and thus unable to mother effectively and suffering the other costs of being 100% financially bound to a marriage, including impoverished old age, tolerating affairs, watching children being ignored or hurt by fathers and having no way to redress it, etc., or (b) working and in conflict with a man's "ego" and worried over whether children were getting what they needed. Had this book been around or had these issues even been discussed more openly during my young adulthood, I could possibly have had a much more fulfilling life and had a family. I am envious of women coming up now, many of whom will have the role models and confidence themselves to pursue careers and many of whom may be able to find men who are more accustomed to equal status with women and who have good skills for parenting children, including the emotional availability so necessary to empathize with a baby.
The book is very thorough and deals well with many of the psychological, sociological and economic issues presented in designing and living a marriage and parenthood and makes an excellent case for the two-career marriage being workable and preferable. It also provides a number of helpful suggestions.
My only suggestion is that the book would have benefited from a closer look at what people call the "negative evidence" for the two-career marriage, so that this evidence can be examined through this newer, fairer, more productive, and more-effective-for-children concept of marriage. My understanding is that there are some children who grew up with working moms who now express unhappiness about that. (As of course, there are legions of children whose fathers have neglected them personally and now express unhappiness about that.) I don't know what was going on in those people's families (and in particular, why the mother is receiving all the blame and not the father), but it would be helpful to see the studies of those children addressed. My gut tells me this is a hangover from patriarchy in which economic dependence on men tended to cause people to feel free to blame women and place expectations on them to be available to meet others' needs and to feel fear in holding men accountable, and that this distorted people's psychology. It may also reflect that our institutions and concepts of workload have not kept up with the changing family structure, and men and women are still working very hard and long hours even when they are in two-earner families and would probably sacrifice some income for more parenting time. I hope we are headed into an era where 30 and 35 hour workweeks (for lower pay, of course) are more readily obtainable, and even become the norm, for working parents (either male or female).
One caution I would offer: I have heard from a psychotherapist that it is very important for a baby, up to the age of 2, to have an empathic, capable caregiver focused on him/her 70% or more of the time. Because these months are pre-verbal and the infant is 100% dependent on the caregiver, children who are not interacted with and whose emotional experience is stifled or ignored may learn, in even that short amount of time, to suppress part of themselves and may develop dysfunctional coping mechanisms. It can be difficult to recover from this early trauma. So, if both parents are to be caregivers it is very important for both parents to have skill at responding to, validating and interacting with the baby (this is not meant as a criticism of men; many women lack this capacity as well). Therapy, support groups, books by therapists like Terence Real or educators like John Badalament can help a man recover the emotional literacy necessary for this if he has buried it because of trauma in his own life. There are also similar books by women, such as "The Mermaid and the Minotaur", the "Second Sex", the "Dance of Anger", etc.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2009
"Getting to 50/50" is a remarkably insightful and readable book about the challenges faced by modern American marriages and families. The authors have made a real contribution to the lives of millions of us who've tried to figure out ways to balance work and career in this era of gender equality.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
From the title of the book I made 2 assumptions. First, the authors realize that many marriages are not 50/50. Second, that this book will help you figure out how to get there.
I was wrong. This book would be great for an already (or almost) 50/50 marriage but gives little details or instruction on how to actually get there if you are not.
Example: breastfeeding. We all realize that is a task only women can perform. The authors tell a story of a situation where the man washed the bottles as his contribution to the task. HOWEVER, I think we all need more suggestions on how to deal with the much more common situation of asking your 'partner' to complete a task, and they either disengage or commit to doing it but in the end do not. Alas, in this area the content is sadly lacking.
Potentially helpful for deciding if you will return to work. Potentially helpful to navigate your first year back on the job. Not helpful as a resource to get to 50/50 within your own marriage.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2009
I have been a member of a two-career couple since 1977. I am often asked by entrepreneurial students, alumni, and consulting clients how to juggle two careers plus a marriage, raising children and caring for aging parents. I have read lots of books and articles about two career marriages over the years and have been unimpressed with most of them.
When I read "Getting to 50/50" I was blown away by how insightfully it captured the challenges facing both men and women in two career marriages, and gave pragmatic ideas on how to overcome those challenges. Students who have read the book (and shared it with their significant others) have had a unanimous response--everyone thought the book was profoundly useful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2013
Repeats stereotypes and bad examples rather than offering advice. If you want to read something that reassures you of your choice to be a working mum, then this book can do it. If you want anything else than commiseration, then look for real advice or rather spend the time you safe reading this book with your children or yourself.
on November 2, 2014
If we lived in an utopia, this would work. But what if you marry a man who already makes 3x or more than you do? Is he really going to find a way to get to 50/50 so he can do half the childcare, carpooling, family organizing, grocery shopping, bill paying, and laundry so you can work full time? My advice to young women is if you want to have a 50/50 relationship, be sure to marry someone who makes (and will continue to make) a very similar income to yours. That, and have grandparents who live in the same city and can help take kids to soccer, baseball, ballet, lacrosse, play dates, and the doctor and dentist.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2013
Getting to 50'50 is written for working parents, trying to juggle home and family. It's primary objective is to aid parents in a working an acceptable solution to the problems that evolve when both parents try to build their careers without neglecting their children in any way.
The book is divided in to three parts. Part one entails the virtues of having both parents working. Part two centers on getting rid of "myths" about both parents working. Part three suggests ways to make the 50/50 theory work in one's own situation.
While many good points are made in each section, in my opinion, it is too utopian.
The positive side...In rare cases this system could work. For an increasing amount of single parents, this book can offer helpful ideas and reduce the amount of parental guilt the single parent often feels. It could be used as a guideline in finding help through a child care assistant. Another positive point is, there is still inequality in the work force. A woman is often not given equal pay for the same work a man does. In some instance a woman is still passed over for promotions, simply because she is a woman. As stated in the book, this situation has improved greatly since the movement in the 6o's and 70's but it is still there. The final positive point, I find, is that although the problem is increasingly diminishing, men still are under the misconception that their work is outside the home and the home and children are the wife's/mother's responsibility. This idea had some merit when men and boys worked the fields and did outside chores before dawn until after dark. They worked very hard, physical labor and required hearty meals and a little relaxation which often entailed reading the bible or other stories to the families encircled about them - either father, mother, or an older sibling. Then exhausted, thy all fell into bed for much needed slumber. Te women taught the daughters from young toddlers to do their share of the household work. That was a strong family unit.
The negative side... First: There are too many situations in life causing 50/50 not to work. Perhaps a spouse develops health issues. Their strength and endurance will not match the other spouses. often one spouse is capable of more because of higher energy levels. Secondly:Often the two marry when both are still earning degrees. Often one must quit school and work while the other pursues their degree. Hopefully, once that happens, he/she will then work extra hard to enable the other too continue their education. Sometimes a child is born, causing the mother to quit the schooling for a period of time. If the husband is working up the "corporate ladder" he cannot be expected to take over child care also, if there are not funds to hire a nanny to help. (That can also prove disastrous.) Final negative, It may be fine from a woman's point of view, but as stated in the book, most men do not have the same nurturing instincts and capabilities most women have - I say most because there are exception to the basic rule. I thoroughly believe the father should have an active role in the physical care and nurturing of each child. but primarily the woman is usually more effective in this role.
It is marvelous, however, in this day and age, many parents can stay at home and still be employed. I feel this is especially true for women who feel they need the extra distraction from the daily duties of motherhood. It allows them to pursue a career from home and still "be there" for their children. It also allows them to better control of the times they need to be other places. The shift of a partnership in marriage happens as in any partnership in life. One time the equations will be 80/20, another time 60/40, yet another time 25/75. There are too many variables in life to always be 50/50...in fact, I know of very few times it will work out that way. Anyway, how many men/women actually end up in the career he/she majored in at college?
I think this is a good reference book. Although the authors try to appear to be objective, it is very biased toward encouraging all women to be career oriented. It is also way to "wordy" and t times repetitive.
They have good intentions and went to a lot of research to solidify their points. I therefore, have to give them a book review rating of Three solid Stars.
I won this through a The Library Thing giveaway and was asked for an honest review, of which I have given.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2012
This book explores all the reasons why women leave the workplace after having children (or even before having children), and tackles each one with a non-judgemental, almost academic approach. The anecdotes scattered throughout the book provide creative, inspiring examples of how to juggle things based on your own values and career ambitions.
Having grown up without an example of a working mom, this book provided me much needed perspective on how to assert your needs in both a relationship and the workplace, and work toward a balanced relationship with shared responsibilities for all household duties.
Highly recommend for anyone who thinks they even might want to have both kids and a career - regardless of how close they are to having kids, or even if they already have them.