working women cover

Unworkable Lives

Working Women, Workable Lives
Linamen and Holland
1993

This is another of those books that attempts to help women solve their problems with juggling home and family obligations against those of one’s career. I should make these books their own special category. Check out a couple of examples here, here, here, and here.) They all have suggestions like:

  • Stay more organized
  • Take time for yourself
  • Hire a babysitter
  • Talk to your husband
  • Meditate

I feel like I read most of the ones published between 1989-1995 when I was trying to to get a handle on my life. None of these books have any real solutions. Even the privileged mother with lots of cash, supportive family, and a staff would find these suggestions ridiculous. The reality is that none of these books go after the real problems or working women. You know, those pesky problems like wage inequality, lack of childcare, sexism, racism, worker exploitation, poor management, etc. You know, the problems that plague 99% of working families.

what to do with the rest of your life cover

Figure Out Your Life

What to Do With the Rest of Your Life
Catalyst
1981

We have had a couple of books authored by the organization Catalyst. This non-profit advocated for women in business. They published career advice for women in the 1970s and 1980s. If you have been a long time reader of this blog, you might remember this particular book.

It felt like this book was more about introspection and finding your “perfect” career path. It was definitely published with nice, privileged, ladies in mind. See the bottom paragraph on the introduction page.

Like I have commented before, this very much is for that 1% of working women that have resources and a nice safety net. I doubt that the single mother trying to make ends meet has time to have an introspective meditation on career satisfaction.

Really, just get in there and weed those career advice books.

you can't do it all cover

Advice for (Privileged) Mothers

You Can’t Do It All
Ideas that work for mothers who work
Lew
1986

Books like this make me mad. They particularly made me mad in the late 1980s and early 90s when I was in child hell. I would bet I read every single one of these books and no one had a “solution”. Because there isn’t one.

What all these books fail to understand is that regardless of what you do (or don’t do), someone will criticize your choice and make you feel lousy. Take your choice: you can be a bad mother or a bad employee.  If you are really trying, you can be both!

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Sex Harassment on the Job

Sexual Harassment on the Job
Petrocelli and Repa
1992

For the early 1990s this was a pretty good guide to understanding the legal remedies to sexual harassment. Spoiler alert! There aren’t that many. The authors frequently acknowledge that most women cannot afford to go down the road of making a complaint due to lack of resources and backlash. However, this book is excellent at giving straight up scripts to confront harassers and document your experience with sexual harassment.

I remember watching the Anita Hill testimony and thought finally someone is sharing the reality of working women everywhere. (Insert your own #metoo story here)

The librarians need to be aware of how legal material does expire, even if nothing much changes. Regardless of the topic, a 1992 pub date throws this book’s accuracy into question.

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Bad Mommy

Mommy, Where are You?
What could be more important than investing in the lives of your children
Mills
1992

Working moms, this book is for you. Did you know you are doing your children a disservice by being selfish and working outside the home? They will probably become criminals all because you put your selfish need to work above your kids. Lucky for you, this author is here to straighten you out.

I just want to laugh/snap at the author for thinking that all women have a choice in working. The author suggests that women with income challenges should take in sewing or sell baked goods. Of course this begs the question, if they are working at home, are they still giving their children the most of their time? Equally infuriating is implying that fathers just can’t do parenting as well as a mother.