"WHEN WORK DOESN'T WORK ANYMORE: Women, Work and Identity" by Elizabeth Perle McKenna

"WHEN WORK DOESN'T WORK ANYMORE: Women, Work and Identity"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An accurate, though imperfectly analyzed, account of an unfinished revolution. After 18 years of driven work (serving as associate publisher of Bantam and publisher of William Morrow and other houses), McKenna walked into her boss's office and quit her job. She was successful according to all the conventional measures of career success. But she was miserable. Feeling she had to choose between her work and her life, she chose her life. McKenna convincingly argues that the women's movement opened up the world of work to women but didn't change a culture hostile to the realities of women's lives. Even though women are pressured, like men, to identify completely with work and sacrifice everything to it, they are still expected to succeed on traditionally feminine terms--to marry, to have children, to be perfect wives and mothers. Neither the workplace nor the larger society has done much either to alleviate those expectations or to help women live up to them. McKenna interviews other women about their work experiences and analyzes their stories along with her own. Part self-help book, part social criticism, part feminist manifesto, this volume drags at points; it's repetitive, and it's also weakened by her continued reliance on the notion that the values of the work world--i.e., competition, success as defined by money and status, etc.--are somehow at odds with ""women's values""--cooperation, caring, relationships, etc. It's a familiar idea, but one that has inspired much controversy and needs to be argued carefully or approached critically, not taken as a given. After all, especially in this era of huge conglomerates and a bottom-line business mentality, many men are frustrated with their jobs for some of the same reasons that McKenna was. For all its theoretical fuzziness and scattered organization, much of McKenna's analysis is sound--and timely.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0385317980
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Delacorte