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Women Still at Work: Professionals Over Sixty and On the Job

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 088-4425633964
ISBN-10: 144221550X
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Editorial Reviews


This is a compassionate yet realistic portrayal of women professionals “of a certain age.” More than typical research studies of such organizations as AARP, MetLife, and Pew, this investigation in truly distinctive by providing all readers at least one role model with whom to relate. The book’s quality rests on, one, the credentials of author Fideler, a well-experienced professional who recently started as a research fellow for Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging and Work. And, two, the range of survey participants. Chapters are segmented into sociological and demographic components: where they work, why they work, personal challenges and concerns, and volunteerism. The results manage to spill out of the rigid confines of facts and figures, and numbers and trends, to capture the reader’s attention and empathy. Meet Amy Kaiser, the director of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, who’s been at her job for more than a decade; or Dollye M.E. Robinson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Jackson (Miss.) State University, who, although refusing to state her age, is as vibrant as much younger contemporaries. Inspiration is best summarized by interviewee Susan Damour, who says 'If you are passionate about something, go make it happen. Meet a need. Ability is ageless.' (Booklist, Starred Review)

This is a paean to the achievements and tenacity of women who remain gainfully employed in their sixties and beyond. Fideler (research fellow, Sloan Ctr. on Aging & Work, Boston Coll.) focuses on women who thrive in long-held jobs or in work they’ve refashioned for themselves. It dovetails nicely with Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style, which observes older women who redefine what old age looks like. Brava to all these women. . . . Fideler rightly admires her subjects. . . . Verdict For those interested in women’s history and the evolution of the workplace. (Library Journal)

Fideler’s narrative is not the dry, rigid prose of a scientific article. It is, instead, lively, hopeful, and even emotional—she is speaking directly to women, particularly to us older women, sparking our confidence and encouraging us through the eyes of others. . . . Her in-depth portrayals of the 34 women are thorough and enlightening. Each woman’s character is an open book, revealed through her thoughts, ambitions, challenges, and love of life. As a woman nearing the “older” generation and of a moderate socioeconomic status, because of reading this book, I feel quite inspired to rethink what 'retirement' means to me and I would heartily recommend it to others in a similar situation. (Monthly Labor Review)

Fideler tells the stories of older working women, backing them up with comparisons to national data and the latest research. Her stories are particularly compelling as they document the lives of a group of women who have been rejecting social norms all along the way, with working in retirement being the latest iteration. Hers is just the kind of groundbreaking work that spawns more theory and research for a new stage of life that is yet to be fully delineated. (Jacquelyn B. James, director of research, Sloan Center on Aging & Work; research professor, Boston College)

In exploring the phenomenon of older working women, Elizabeth Fideler weaves together substantive interviews and contemporary statistical data to create a very optimistic work. The strong, vibrant older women who shared their stories with Fideler are compelling examples of the benefits of staying on the job and 'off the shelf' in later life. Fideler’s evident empathy with her subjects allows her to unveil the 'personal truths' of their lives in an even-handed and comprehensive manner. While the high-powered women interviewed here are by no means typical, they provide wonderful examples of the importance of mentoring, persistence and positivity for women who have the opportunities to stay active and engaged in the workplace well beyond modern thresholds of old age. (Susannah Ottaway, Carleton College)

Elizabeth F. Fideler has provided an extraordinary study on older women who continue to work in the labor force of this nation. The case studies of these women are beautifully written and presented, as if the author is having a conversation with the subjects and the readers. (Charles V. Willie, Charles William Eliot Professor Emeritus, Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Thanks to Liz Fideler for profiling ‘our’ cohort—middle class women over 65 still at work. It’s good to know that the graying of female professionals is no barrier to continued employment. I enjoyed reading about the interesting women Fideler introduces and learning how they manage their lives in and out of work. (Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Brandeis University)

This book challenges assumptions about why women work after the age of sixty, and thoughtfully explores how such women manage the boundaries between their professional and personal lives. Most importantly, the author’s research shows that women can have real agency in structuring long and productive careers, and can help institutions shape more responsive policies and environments for all older workers. (Mary Deane Sorcinelli, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

A book for every woman for whom traditional paradigms of work are falling away. Match the map in your head with those of different women depicted in the book and consider what's next for you. (Mary Kay Thompson Tetreault, provost emerita, Portland State University)

Engagingly written, Fideler's book illustrates a relatively new and largely positive trend among older women in the workforce. The women Fideler profiles—many of whom have seen doors open to them in the second half of their lives that were closed when they came of age—offer examples for all of the necessary qualities to remain productive, vital, creative and fulfilled in their work lives at later and later ages. (Tatjana Meschede, Brandeis University)

Four years ago, Elizabeth Fideler of Framingham was conducting education research when her grant ran out and the job ended. Finding something else was difficult, but she wasn’t ready to retire.

'I thought, I’m only 65 and I feel as though I’ve been put on a shelf,' recalled Fideler, now a research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. “I wondered what other women my age were doing.”

The experience led to her new book,
Women Still at Work: Professionals Over Sixty and On the Job.

While every woman’s story is unique, Fideler said, a common theme is the satisfaction and fulfillment they receive from their professions, even while juggling family, volunteer and other responsibilities.

'The vast majority are delighted to be working, and as long as they have the energy and good health, they plan to continue,' said Fideler, who also is chairwoman of the Framingham Public Library’s board of trustees, and the Framingham Reads Together program for next year. “They’ve worked very hard to get where they are, maybe in a second or third career. They love what they do, and they’re good at it. They’re at the top of their game.”

For her part, Fideler has no plans to slow down, either. Her next project: a study of older men in the workforce.
(The Boston Globe)

About the Author

Elizabeth F. Fideler is research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. She lives in Framingham, MA.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (June 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144221550X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442215504
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
(really should be 1.5 stars)

Cut to the Chase:
Though it was an interesting concept — interviewing and delving into one of the faster growing segments of the US workforce — this ultimately felt more like a book pitch than a fully fleshed out work. While many of the women are inspirational for a variety of reasons (many are leaders in their field, are working because they’re supporting their mother, or just feel like they still have something to contribute), everything starts to blur a little together by the 10th or so interview, and though there are occasionally interesting charts and graphs, I’m not sure what I really learned by reading the book that I couldn’t have deduced from the back cover and maybe a quick glance at the graphics.

Greater Detail:
First, I will admit, I expect to learn something when I read nonfiction. Even if it’s something more anecdotally interesting than life changing (like many of the business books I’ve read and reviewed).

This book, though it has an interesting concept, really fell flat for me because it really could be summed up with the following: 1. women work for a variety of different reasons (financial, emotional fulfillment, because they grew up in an era where you had to fight to work and now want to enjoy that privilege, etc), 2. aging women are working more than aging men, 3. women over 65 is a growing segment of our workforce (mostly because of changes in laws that make it so that it’s financially more beneficial in terms of social security as well as outside factors like the recession).

Everything else is more or less a rehashing of the above, interlaced with many, many interviews.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a revealing and encouraging look at the successful and rewarding lives older women continue to lead despite, and sometimes because of, aging. The evidence here that growing older should not be a barrier to remaining productive and achieving personal and professional goals was inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the interviews and case studies and the opportunity to meet the women who make up the statistics and learn more about the lives they lead. If any woman begins to doubt her ability to remain successful in her job, reading this book should restore her confidence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Fideler’s book, Women Still At Work, helps us understand how we should think about our aging population vis a vis work. It's not just that the people Fideler interviewed are strongly committed and energetic role models, they have also overcome obstacles and been creative about their futures. They have a sense of what's needed to make life fulfilling. It is important to have examples so sociologists, demographers, social historians, geriatric specialists, and others can learn and apply lessons from the book that map out new paths for older women who want to remain in the work force. Charts and graphs give the reader an idea of how the work force is divided and takes the story beyond the particular to the general. In each generation, work force characteristics change. If we had been better prepared for the changes brought on by technology and the new and different training needed, perhaps our current unemployment crises would not be so deep and devastating. By balancing trends with inspirational stories, Fideler's book draws attention to a future in which more women will choose work over retirement when they reach their 60s.
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Format: Hardcover
In Women Still at Work and her new Men Still at Work, Ms. Fideler reports on an important trend: Older workers often keep working long after their peers retire, making significant professional contributions into their sixties and beyond. This trend has important ramifications that Ms. Fideler describes in her books. Women work past retirement both because they must to support themselves and because they want to continue to contribute in their chosen fields.

Ms. Fidler distributed a survey to older women asking insightful questions about their work lives and work plans. The survey spread virally until several hundred women replied. Ms. Fideler then conducted in-depth interviews of several women and provides their stories as fascinating case studies. I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in women's issues and in workplace trends. Everyone will find something of interest in this highly readable book.
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