I started reading Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink as part of a book club; one of which I (sadly) infrequent due to life getting in the way. I still like to read the books along with the other members, even if I can’t join in the post-reading festivities of food, wine, gossip and eventual chat about the designated book.
Unlike other books I have read in the past, I was compelled to highlight certain sections of the book, feeling that I needed to share these tidbits with you. Please note that I am one of the fortunate ones whom works for a company that embraces career enhancement along with family life and flexibility. It just amazes me that there are companies out there in this day and age that are so NOT like that.
Ever hear of the “Mommy Track”? Coined by Felice Schwartz, a career consultant, the mommy track is defined in a New York Times article as:
…a phenomenon in which women with family responsibilities are shunted into dead end, lower paying jobs.
Schwartz recommended that companies separate their female employees into two groups. Group 1 would be composed of the female employees that were willing to work the longer hours, have the flexibility to travel whenever needed – basically not letting anything personal get “in the way” of their career. Group 2 would be the female employees who are OK with taking the lower-end, less paying jobs in exchange for flexibility when they needed to take an impromptu day off should their child get sick, etc. Do you find this fair and “modern”? Thankfully, I as do a lot of my working moms are employed by companies that are flexible and supportive of our career track. This mommy track just threw me for a loop.
In an interview with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, she stated that all of the years that mothers spend raising their children help them in the future with interpersonal and diplomacy skills. I completely agree! Think about it…all of the times you had to be the referee in a confrontation between your kids – pointing out key points of the argument and how to come to an agreement. I believe that alone has helped me with working with my teams, along with the interpersonal skills of knowing how to work with different personalities. BTW – Pelosi was a stay-at-home mom to 5 children before running for Congress.
Maternity leave – a very heated topic amongst Americans today. Did you know that the United States is one of the handful of countries that doesn’t have paid maternity leave? What are your thoughts on that? I can dedicate an entire post to that topic alone.
A great tip I took from the book was that sometimes you need to create a project plan for your family life, just as you would for a new project at work. I know it sounds very sterile, but to me it is very helpful! There may come a time that there are so many things going on at once – whether it is after school sports, play dates, household chores, coupled with work events – that a project plan, or something as simple as a list, will clear your mind and help you prioritize and conquer everything sanely.
Ever hear of Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE)? It is new to me, but I found it quite interesting. Basically employees are evaluated by their work and not by the number of hours they work or the amount of face time. Its the theory that as long as you get your work done, and it is completed to the expected standards that are initially set forth, then you are adhering to the ROWE and can have “unlimited paid time off”. This puts the project ownership, accountability and full responsibility on the employee. A company that has implemented ROWE, Gap Inc., has reported that quality and productivity has increased, while turnover has decreased by 50%. Nice!
Ever wonder why, at times, we are super stressed and not as happy as we remember our moms were? Alcorn points out that
Our lives have changed dramatically since the ’60s, but the institutions around us – government, workplace and marriage – have not kept up. Mothers today are on the front lines of a deep dysfunction in society, trying to make up for the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that is now expected of us.
Makes a lot of sense, right?
Above are just a few points that resonated with me – there was a lot of great reading going on with this book. I highly recommend it for my working mama readers as well as my stay-at-home mamas – I feel that you all may assimilate with what the author is saying. Here’s an Amazon link to grab a copy (digital or print):
Please note that the opinions in this review are 100% my own. I was not asked to review this book but thought it was interesting and a good read for you!