- Paperback: 310 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (May 4, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520256573
- ISBN-13: 978-0520256576
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Opting out," "off-ramping" and "following the mommy track" are all popular terms to describe professional women who leave their jobs to be stay-at-home moms. But do they describe the truth of the matter? Stone, an associate professor of sociology at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, set out to answer this question after discovering that there was no research on the matter; perceptions of these women were shaped almost exclusively by the media. Stone conducted in-depth interviews with 54 women: white women who had been highly successful professionals and were married to men who could support them while they stayed at home—i.e., women who had a "choice." What Stone found was fascinating and surprising: women quit because of work, not family, and only as a last resort: "They have been unsuccessful in their efforts to find flexibility or... because they found themselves marginalized and stigmatized, negatively reinforced for trying to hold onto their careers after becoming mothers." These women were abandoning "all-or-nothing" workplaces where the demands were so unrelenting that, as one mutual fund trader put it, "there were days when I couldn't get up from my desk to go to the bathroom." Stone's revealing study adds an important counterpoint to Leslie Bennetts's forthcoming The Feminine Mistake. (May)
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Readers should be aware that the author, by her own admission (p. 15 of the book), focused on white married women with children and that these women had previously worked as managers or professionals. If you don't fall into that group, this book may not appeal to you. These women, for the most part, also had husbands who could support their decision to stay home.In short, these women often had expensive college degrees and were high achievers.
Stone also points out that women who tend to "opt out" are the exception, not the rule, citing studies that indicate that 70 percent of the women who are married mothers of preschoolers still continue to work. Turn this figure around and the reality is that one out of every four women DOES decide to stay home. This book is an exploration of these particular women and it is written in what I found to be a very nonjudgmental and open style.
The author was also able to get some company heads to admit their mixed feelings about mothers in the workplace, their fears about them being less committed to their jobs or more likely to quit.
Other areas covered in this book include:
Most women quit only as a last resort (p. 18)
Each woman's story was unique, often complex and with many factors.
There was often ambivalence and a shifting of roles within the home
Their decision did NOT signal a return to traditionalism (p. 19).
Their former workplaces often made it difficult, if not impossible, for them to continue balancing family and work, rejecting their attempts to create innovations while maintaining productivity.
If you'd like to know what is featured in each Chapter, here's a quick rundown:
Chapter 1 - Looks at various women (the former Ivy League sports star, the CPA, the Consultant, an editor, a stock trader, etc) and their various experiences at work.
Chapter 2- 3- Looks at the families, children and husbands.
Chapter 4- Focuses on work, problems and challenges and factors that lead to a decision to opt out.
Chapters 6-8 - Life at home, coping techniques, finding new identities.
Chapter 9- Explores possible ways that women could continue to work (if they chose) and minimizing the obstacles that make staying home a necessity, not a choice.