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)