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CREATING A LIFE by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

CREATING A LIFE

Professional Women and the Quest for Children

By Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7868-6766-3

A by-now familiar study of accomplished, powerful women and their inability to combine high-octane careers with motherhood in the existing corporate culture.

Hewlett (coauthor, The War Against Parents, 1998) began interviewing prominent achievers in diverse fields for a book about women turning 50 in the millennium. Then she found that none of her subjects had children and, delving further, that none of them had deliberately chosen to be childless. Focusing on high-achieving professionals ages 40-55, the author tries to determine how these female lawyers, bankers, and physicians differ from their male counterparts, most of whom are able to balance work and family. Unfortunately, Hewlett breaks no news with her discoveries. She concludes that moving up the career ladder requires long hours, including important “face time” extending late into the evening. Many “ultra-high achievers” also have to travel several times each month, and their few remaining evening hours are spent answering business e-mail and voicemail. In this sort of work culture, high-achieving women are hard-pressed to find a mate, especially since they often want to marry highly successful men who may find a “less threatening” woman more appealing. By the time a woman has successfully negotiated a career, found a suitable spouse, and decided to have children, she may be too old to conceive without medical intervention. Corporate America is the villain here, feels Hewlett, whose less-then-groundbreaking solutions include a time bank of six months of paid leave that can be taken throughout a child’s life, the creation of high-level jobs that allow for reduced hours, and the promotion of new legislation to eliminate long-hour work weeks. Astonishingly, the author feels that this book will “help young women find both love and work” by encouraging them to become highly proactive in finding a partner and having children early.

Interesting profiles, ho-hum analysis.