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Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers 1st Edition

12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195373691
ISBN-10: 0195373693
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Editorial Reviews


"Lots of excellent advice for women facing different career stages."--BusinessWeek

"Mason and Ekman's book is an interesting look at the real challenges that mothers face in balancing work and family in a variety of professions."--National Review

"Finally a book that makes crystal clear the road ahead for women. Mothers on the Fast Track beautifully lays out the next steps for the smartest female brains to lead the nation."-- Louann Brizendine, M.D., author of The Female Brain

"Mothers on the Fast Track is must reading for professional women starting families, second chapters or simply trying to break through to the next level. As the demands of parenting and the workplace have intensified, we're searching more than ever for the right work-family balance. Now Mary Ann Mason and her daughter Eve have produced an indispensable guide and realistic cost-benefit analysis of motherhood and women's careers."--Lynn Povich, Former Editor-in-Chief of Working Woman magazine

"What an excellent book! What makes the book so powerful is the personal stories, gleaned from what must have been hundreds of interviews with women in American society. Mothers on the Fast Track made me think; and, most often, find validation of what I have seen in the lives of my wife, five sisters, and ten nieces."--Tom Campbell, Dean, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

"Compared to her sisters of the l960s, the fast track mom of today has it made -- the new man at home, big opportunities at work, wider supports in place. True? Or, as Mason and Ekman warn us, false. Standards of motherhood have risen, they point out, and moral support declined. But, we can beat --and improve --the new odds, and this useful, timely and wonderfully warm book shows how."--Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift and The Time Bind

"Why can't privileged women on the fast track crack the glass ceiling? This mother-daughter team offers a compelling and provocative explanation, helping us understand why all women face gender inequality once they enter the labor force, and even more - what we can do about it."--Ruth Rosen, author of The World Split Open

About the Author

Mary Ann Mason is the first woman to be appointed Graduate Dean at University of California, Berkeley. A former lawyer, she can speak from personal experience about the struggle to balance family responsibilities and a fast-track career. A national expert on child custody issues, Mason is author of From Father's Property to Children's Rights, The Custody Wars, and The Equality Trap. Eve Mason Ekman is a medical social worker in the San Francisco County General Hospital Emergency room and also curates art exhibits locally and nationally. She has a Masters in Social Work from the University of California where she was the editor, founder and art director of an interdisciplinary publication between the schools of Journalism and Social Welfare.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195373693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195373691
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.7 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,379,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Ann Mason is currently professor and co-director of the Center, Economics & Family Security at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

Mary Ann Mason's scholarship spans children and family law, policy, and history. Recent works have focused on working families, in particular the issues faced by the surging numbers of professional women in law, medicine, science, and the academic world. Her most recent book (co-authored with her daughter Eve Mason Ekman) is Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers (Oxford, 2007).

From 2000 to 2007, she served as the first woman dean of the Graduate Division at UC Berkeley, with responsibility for nearly 10,000 students in more than 100 graduate programs. During her tenure, she championed diversity in the graduate student population, promoted equity for student parents, and pioneered measures to enhance the career-life balance for all faculty. Her research findings and advocacy have been central to ground-breaking policy initiatives, including the ten-campus "UC Faculty Family Friendly Edge" ( and the nationwide "Nine Presidents" summit on gender equity at major research universities.

Among her other books are two major works on child custody, From Father's Property to Children's Rights: A History of Child Custody in America (Columbia, 1994) and The Custody Wars: Why Children Are Losing the Legal Battles and What We Can Do About It (Basic, 1999). She also co-edited (with Arlene Skolnick and Steve Sugarman) All Our Families: New Policies for A New Century (Oxford, 2000, 2003) and (with Paula Fass) An American Childhood (NYU, 2000). Her first book on work and family conflicts, The Equality Trap, was published in 1988.

Mason was a professor in the Graduate School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley from 1989 to 2007. She received a B.A. cum laude from Vassar College, a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Rochester, and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco. She taught American history and practiced law for several years before joining the faculty at Berkeley in 1989, where she has taught children and family law and women's issues in the law. She is considered a national expert on child custody issues and family law and policy, frequently addressing national and international media, conferences, and workshops on children and family issues.

Mary Ann Mason lives in San Francisco, California, with her husband, psychologist Paul Ekman. She is the mother of Tom and Eve.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Page-medrich on June 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Don't let the unpretentious, down-to-earth tone or breezy writing style of authors Mason and Ekman fool you -- this is among the most serious books on the topic to appear yet.

Professor Mary Ann Mason is nationally known for analyses that (unlike some 'mommy-track' pundits) arise from solid data. Her extensive social science research documents the life-course points at which too many highly educated women drop out of the pipeline that leads men (and some women who sacrifice family life) to the top echelons of academia, law, business, etc. The implications of this feminized brain drain are as profound for the welfare of our nation as they are for the welfare of women and children. Mason argues that meaningful measures of gender equity must include not only women's equal representation in corporate boardrooms and at university podiums but also women's (and men's) ability to sustain satisfactory family lives without being relegated to second-class status -- without the either/or proposition too many fast-track women face.

Mason's research findings have sparked initiatives to reform the workplace from traditional high-pressured male models to more humane and family-friendly environments where women can be better supported so that our nation need not lose a vast pool of intellectual and creative talent. Mason's advocacy campaigns have already made tangible differences at campuses across the country, benefiting graduate students as well as faculty seeking to combine careers with family. If future generations of professors, scientists, inventors, attorneys, CEOs, and media moguls are not to replicate the old limited boys-club models, Mason's prescriptions for transforming the workplace -- especially the influential fast-track professions -- deserve careful consideration everywhere.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Pryor on August 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book has many strengths, and three stand out. One is that the book really shows the data relating to women's success and longevity in the workforce, as affected by children. (The data are very easy to understand as presented.) Second, the "hard data" are backed up by and given voice with insights drawn from interviews with many women who have tried, in one way or another and in various settings, to continue a career and have children. Third, the book addresses not just this topic in general, but how women with children fare in several types of professions; for instance, it is very interesting to learn that female doctors remain in their profession with a lower dropout rate.

And the book is full of insight from which any given employer--or any group of interested women in a worksite--could work to make real change happen, so that women have the chance to choose.

This isn't a cheesy "you can have it all" book, nor does it try to whip up or take sides in "mommy wars." It is not about blaming people or trying to prescribe which way is best to raise our children. Rather, it helps us see what we can do to broaden the opportunities and quality of life for mothers and their children.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Smith on June 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
We may think American society encourages equality between the sexes, but it's still true that marriage and children are good for men's careers and troublesome for women's careers. Mason and Ekman amply demonstrate that in a book that should be required reading for every CEO, college president, and manager of professionals. There are some real WOW moments in the statistics they present and the stories they tell, and they use these well to define an agenda for the next generation of changes that can make the workplace family-friendly. Opportunities for meaningful work and opportunities for healthy family life don't have to collide. Read this brief book and find out what each of us can and should do next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynne Kaufman on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This succinct, impeccably researched and engagingly written book is a wake-up call to young women considering meaningful careers. It presents practical guidelines and pitfalls for forging a life-long profession in academics, medicine, law or business and also having a marriage and children. I wish this book had existed when I was making those hard choices. I'm glad it's here for my daughter.
Lynne Kaufman, author and educator
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Schiff on September 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a book every man should read.
Even for those of us who have lived through and heartily supported the equality revolution, the book is full of stunning facts, both statistical and personal, that are a wake up call to a job not yet done. A male culture still dominates practices in business, the professions and the academy and does not fully address the implications of biology for the role of women in society and their struggle for a level playing field

The book is also a great read. Mary Ann Mason writes clearly, forcefully and personally. The stories of many women collected by Eve Mason Ekman are compelling and very well told. The book combines the best of social science and personal narrative, to make a convincing argument that our sisters, daughters and wives still have great challenges as women and mothers in the working world.
While we are living in times when more women are achieving high status position, this book reminds us of the costs to these women and tells us of the many powerful and talented women who choose, because of circumstance, to not go there. I have no doubt that this would be a better world if there were more women who running it. This book calls for a change that will benefit us all.
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