Books by Betty Holcomb

Released: July 1, 1998

A carefully researched report on why working mothers can shed their angst and who is laying the guilt trip on them. Holcomb is a consulting editor at Working Mother magazine (and mother of two). Hers is a thoughtful and informed analysis of the roots of resistance to women in the workplace. Holcomb traces the ups and downs of women's status through Freud, John Bowlby's attachment theory (still a powerful influence, although the original studies were based on children in orphanages), and the recent conflicting reports that children's development suffers/doesn't suffer because their mothers work. The Catch-22 still prevalent in the workplace is clearly stated here. Women are denied promotions and raises because they are mothers and it is assumed by employers that their commitment to the job is weak; if women are fully committed to the job, then it's assumed their children are suffering. Holcomb takes the media to task for misinterpreting—or not bothering to interpret'studies of women's conflict about workplace pressures (women were not leaving work and returning home in droves, as one series of reports had it) and of the consequences of day care (it's not child care per se that adversely affects development, but poor care or problems in the home, such as divorce or financial stress). This ambivalence stymies reasonable discussion for universally funded child care and other parental benefits, like flextime. There are some challenging thoughts about class-driven views of day care (as cachement for the poor or troubled) vs. preschool (grooming the children of the upwardly mobile for Harvard), and about the finances of working mothers. The concluding chapters are optimistic, foreseeing men and women as equal partners at home and in the workplace, and women more willing to fight for their rights as parents and workers. Solid and astute, with the kind of information that women can use to forge workplace opportunity without guilt. Read full book review >