Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All

Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All

4.7 13
by Sharon Meers, Joanna Strober
     
 

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Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober are professionals, wives, and mothers. They understand the challenges and rewards of two-career households. They also know that families thrive not in spite of working mothers but because of them. You can have a great career, a great marriage, and be a great mother. The key is tapping into your best resource and most powerful

Overview


Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober are professionals, wives, and mothers. They understand the challenges and rewards of two-career households. They also know that families thrive not in spite of working mothers but because of them. You can have a great career, a great marriage, and be a great mother. The key is tapping into your best resource and most powerful ally—the man you married.

After interviewing hundreds of parents and employers, surveying more than a thousand working mothers, and combing through the latest government and social science research, the authors have discovered that kids, husbands, and wives all reap huge benefits when couples commit to share equally as breadwinners and caregivers. Mothers work without guilt, fathers bond with their kids, and children blossom with the attention of two involved parents.

From “baby boot camp” for new dads to exactly what to say when negotiating a leave with the boss, this savvy book offers fresh ideas to today’s families offering encouragement, hope, and confidence to any woman who has ever questioned her choices regarding work and family.

Winner of the Independent Publisher Award Gold Medal in Parenting

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Winner of the ForeWord Reviews 2013 IndieFab Awards Silver medal in the category of Family & Relationships
Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2014 Gold medal in the category of Parenting

"Don't believe the myths about women and work - this advice will benefit you now and in the future."
—Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In and COO of Facebook

"In light of the ongoing debate over how and if working mothers can have it all, the authors say women can have successful careers and be good moms, but only if their spouses are equal partners in the work at home."
Washington Post

"Getting to 50/50 highlights the perpetual debate about the proper work-life balance for parents, particularly for women."
CBS Money Watch

"A valuable read for working couples contemplating parenthood.
Financial Post

"Authors Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober (and a foreword by Sheryl Sandberg) empower mothers to strive for this goal by highlighting experts’ advice, couples who are making it work, and concrete steps you can take to get to 50/50."
—Flex Jobs

"Getting To 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All is a book not just for women. It’s a message of freedom, a guide to empowerment and shows how two spouses working can benefit the entire family unit. Reading it will spark discussion with your husband and whomever you choose to share its views with. Let the dialogue begin!"
—Savvy GeekMoms

"An inspiring and empowering read for all Proud Working Moms."
Proud Working Mom

"Real tips and tricks to make your marriage 50/50 before baby and once the kids have arrived."
Salt and Nectar

"Getting to 50/50: How working parents can have it all is a call to arms."
Working Mums

"An interesting social study into the dynamics of the nuclear family and the demands on working parents. "
Redefining Mom

"I highly recommend this book for dads that want to give their families more balance."
Playground Dad

"Kudos to Meers and Strober for publishing this important, much-needed book."
Working Moms Against Guilt

"All types of families can benefit from shifting perspective from competition between men and women, to cooperation that improves life for everyone involved."
Foreword Reviews

Getting to 50/50 offers hope and help, perspective and advice and ultimately, some extraordinarily practical approaches to making a family work, regardless of the specific challenges that family faces.
—About.com

"Meers and Strober tell a highly readable story about how a 50/50 commitment to work AND family affects work, marriage, children, and sex. You won’t want to miss Getting to 50/50."
—Stew Friedman, Director, Wharton Work/Life Integration Project and author of Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life

"[Sharon and Joanna] have spoken at companies and business schools for more than a decade. They know the culture and the challenges. But they're convinced 50/50 can — and should — be done."
The Chicago Tribune

Offers advice on how to get husbands to pull their weight around the house."
—"Woman's Hour," BBC 4

“Sharon and Joanna are mothers with five young children between them. They understand the challenges and rewards of two — career households. The key is tapping into your best resource and most powerful ally — the man you married.”
The Green Parent

“Finally! A book about two-income families that speaks the truth and provides solid advice. Every working mom needs to read this book... twice.”
– Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

Getting to 50/50 presents a solid business case for gender-equal workplaces and families, and then helps us realize how wonderful this solution is for relationships as well.”
– Marc and Amy Vachon, authors of Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents

"Wish I'd had a book like this years ago when I was a young working mother. Neither my husband nor I had a clue how to juggle the demands of our careers with the demands of being good parents. Our marriage suffered as a result. Today's working couples are fortunate to have a great book like Getting to 50/50 to turn to for helpful advice.
~ BJ Gallagher, author of It's Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been and What Would Buddha Do At Work?

"Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober are pioneers in illuminating the path for working couples to have it all. And as pioneers they have personally travelled the territory and offer an array of insights and options that nourish relationships & careers. If you are struggling with how working couples can have it all, you must read Getting to 50/50 for yourself, for your children and for your career and for your relationship."
–Susyn Reeve, author of The Inspired Life

"When I was growing up there was a chewing gum commercial on the radio with a tune that touted, “Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun.” I think it would be a great anthem for this insightful book that wisely shows not only the advantages of being a working couple but also why it is great for the kids as well. And, you, the reader, will surely double your knowledge and pleasure by reading Getting to 50/50.
-Allen Klein, author of Mom’s the Word: The Wit, Wisdom and Wonder of Motherhood

“We all have the capacity to be successful in our career, and in our family life as well. Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All is the ideal resource every spouse needs to make that happen. This book is not only a tool to help improve your work/life balance; it also serves as a timeless gift which benefits the entire family.”
–David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781936740581
Publisher:
Cleis Press
Publication date:
09/17/2013
Pages:
340
Sales rank:
990,257
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


The most important career decision you make is whom you marry. (And the deals you make with him.)

INTRODUCTION - Imagine a Full Life—There's No Need to Choose
Do we know you?
You worked hard to get where you are. You pushed yourself in school, got a job, and gave it your all. You learned your trade and found your strength, spurred on by the challenge of doing things well. When you see the next mountain, you gear up to climb it.
Along the way, you think about meeting the right guy. Or maybe you've met him and he has joined your journey. Either way, you see how linking your life with a man's may change your course.
Setting out, it all see,ms simple. It's fun to be a twosome, and you help each other when the ground gets rocky. If he slips, you steady him; when you lag behind, he pulls you up. You map out your future together, and it's good. Two people joined by love and shared dreams. This is the marriage you hope for.
Then, one day, you take a grand new path: parenthood. No longer a couple, you're a family. While you pause to adjust to this miracle, your husband resumes his course...
You look into your child's eyes and wonder, How much will I miss you when I go back to work? Should I slow down to keep you safe—even stop altogether?
Other voices echo yours. Those who once cheered you on now ask, "Do you have to work? Won't the baby need you? Do you really want to leave your baby with strangers? Does your salary even cover child care?"
Back at work, some colleagues now see you differently.
"You seem less focussed. We'll ask Jack to help you run that project."
"We restructured the group while you were out. Half your team now reports to Charlotte."
"Commitment is important. We'd like to see you here more hours."
And you see things differently, too. Do we need the third staff meeting? Is the trip to Tucson really necessary? you start to ask—time is no longer something you give away freely.
You look to your partner for support, but he faces a steep grade himself. Convinced he must "provide for the family," he resolves to work even harder. You call to him for help—did he hear you? You ask him to take his share of the load, but he worries he'll stumble if he does.
"I know it's my turn to do day-care drop-off, but can you do it? I have an early meeting."
"The baby is calmer with you. He always fusses when I t (with hope that she'll stay there.)ry to feed him."
"There are no other dads at the playground and the moms look at me funny. Can't you do the play date?"
Once day you wake up and wonder, Why not just quit? You see your paycheck depleted by childcare costs and your time vanish as each day repeats itself: dressing your child, feeding her, going to work, coming home, feeding her again, and putting her to bed (with hopes that she'll stay there.) Weekends are cram sessions of diapers, groceries, laundry, errands, and the occasional night out that takes as much planning as a space shuttle launch. You begin to think of your spouse as a kindly roommate who usually remembers to put the seat down.
You're still giving it your best at work, but you're tired and scared about the not-so-subtle signs that no one thinks you'll stick it out. On bad days, you ask yourself, Can't we make do without my income—just for a while? You certainly wouldn't be the only working mother to "opt out." You can tick off a half dozen ex-colleagues, all mothers, all talented in different ways, who drove off into the sunset, children strapped safely in their car seats. You keep hearing that voice: Is is really worth it?
You bet your kid's college tuition it is.
We're going to show you precisely why working is worth it for you, your children, and your spouse, and how both your family and your career can flourish—when you tap into a powerful ally. It's not your babysitter, your BlackBerry, or your boss (thugh thy come in handy). Here's a hint: You married him.
...
We are two working moms who believe that everyone wins when men are full parents and women have full careers. When both parents pay the bills and care for the kids, this life is possible—we know from experience. In our homes, we don't assume that Mom is destined to be the "primary parent." Our kids see Dad as equal to Mom because we set it up that way. True, we did 100 percent of the breast-feeding and sometimes only we can make the monster under the bed disappear. But Dad loves parenting as much as we do—and he's good at it, too. There is also no "primary breadwinner" among us. Mom and Dad are both on the hook for the costs of raising kids, from groceries to braces, from housing to soccer cleats. The payoff? We enjoy rewarding careers and see that our families thrive--not despite our work but because of it.

Chapter Five: Success Does Not Require 24/7
We started our careers in two times-intensive fields - Joanna in law and Sharon in finance. We each looked around our offices and saw men working 24/7, and women doing the same thing - until they became parents. In our mostly male professions, long hours were not only a badge of honor, a sign of status, they were a necessity for anyone who wanted to get ahead. It was clear who the working mothers were (a handful of women who tried to keep more normal hours), but it was hard to tell who the fathers were. Single or with four kids at home, all men arrived at work early and went home late - or so it seemed. Talking to men and women in all kind of jobs, we heard the same story. As young people starting out they, like us, got this message: To succeed, you need to work all the time. To work all the time, you need to be (or act) childless.
We've been lucky to learn this is not true - but only after many years of laboring under the delusion that it was. We've all been duped into thinking that more is better when it comes to our jobs, that somehow the more time we spend at work, from offices to hospitals to test kitchens to newsrooms, the more productive we'll be. It starts from a belief that's largely right: That hard work is good (which it is), that we can do a better job if we put in more hours (which was true when we were talking about bringing the harvest in before the crops froze). "It didn't used to be this intense," says Bill George, who ran Medtronic and now sits on the boards of global companies like ExxonMobil. "It got much worse starting fifteen years ago."
Compounding the problem, some of the most hardheaded leaders romanticize 24/7 life. "I used to show up at the office Saturday morning," writes former General Electric CEO Jack Welch in his best-selling book Winning. He had plenty of company, all men, on these weekend mornings he describes as "a blast." "We would mop up the workweek in a more relaxed way and shoot the breeze about sports."
"I never once asked anyone 'Is there someplace you'd rather be - or need to be - for your family or favorite hobby or whatever?' The idea just didn't dawn on me that anyone would want to be anywhere but at work."
We've created a breed of managers who think 24/7 is a matter of pride and success. The overfocus on hours can lead even bright bosses to stop measuring things that matter more, like results or the inputs that drive them, which take more effort to track. Consider the management maxim that "what gets measured gets done" and it's no wonder we're all at the office even longer.
Studying a large firm, Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow heard one boss excuse a failing worker this way: "I think we would have lost faith in him a long time ago. But he works so hard, you just have to assume he's working on something really challenging." Bosses at this firm (as in many) were so focused on hours that they would cut a poor performer slack but pushed out successful workers who put in less time.

Something happens to our sense of time when we become parents. Time becomes a prized commodity, something we'd rather not waste. When our time is being misused - by either ourselves or others - we want to punch the clock, literally. It's always aggravating when the person who called the 2:00 meeting shows up at 2:15 and then blows another fifteen minutes off topic. It's even worse when you'd like to leave by 5:15, not 5:45. That's half an hour your child will be waiting for you at day care (accruing those infuriating late fees).
"'This is the dumbest meeting I've sat through in my life.' That was all I could think. It was an important client but we weren't using our time well and I had to leave to make my daughter's event," said Grace, the advertising executive. "Before kids, I'd bought into this idea 'I'm a partner at this big firm and this is what we do.' But when there are kids who need you for specific things, you acknowledge the truth - that we spend a lot of time doing stupid things at work."
It gets harder to see 24/7 as heroic when you know how much it hurts the well-being of kids (and of your marriage and spouse). You can't get good results unless you put in good, hard work, but as Doug, a professor of psychiatry, says, "Sometimes I think we overdo it. When people feel they're expected to be at the office for twelve hours a day, they spend a lot more time bullshitting at the watercooler."
While it's easy to think that the workplace is kinder than it was a generation ago, we are in fact being asked to work longer, harder, and faster, all in the name of the global competition. If we're really interested in winning, our addiction to midnight oil is a danger. Productivity, efficiency, innovation should be our focus - all more easily achieved by alert minds not working 24/7.

Chapter Nine: Baby up all Night? Good Guys to the Rescue - how 50/50 men save the day

Your baby is sick. Your meeting runs late. Your sitter needs an emergency root canal. The day care closes for the Columbus Day holiday - but your office does not. Early parenthood can feel like a place where Murphy's Law is the only rule on the books.
And if the bombardment of new problems weren't enough, you're having to problem-solve with a deeply sleep-deprived mind (unless you lucked out with the rare infant who sleeps the full night). Kara remembers commuting on the freeway one morning after a rocky night with her six-month-old. "'The cops should pull you over,' I told myself.' I could barely keep my eyes open." "I think it takes six to nine months to rebalance, to recalibrate your life," says Carol, the accounting partner. "You have to know you're going to have rough nights when your kid comes in your bed and throws up on you."
In these stressful first months of parenthood, it's easy to feel like the damsel in distress. If your husband is not rushing to be your 50/50 knight in shining armor, you might share this with him. James
Levine, director of the Fatherhood Project and author of Working Fathers, says that we need to help men stand up and ask for flexibility as often as women do. Levine says too many of us play a game of "Blame the Culture." "Working parents assume that employers won't allow men the same leeway as women. But they rarely ask. Men don't ask their.

Meet the Author


Joanna Strober is Managing Director of a fund investing in private partnerships at Sterling Stamos, an investment firm in Silicon Valley and the founder of the "working stiffs" mom's group. As one of the few females in private equity in Silicon Valley, Strober has been featured in the front page of the Wall Street Journal for launching several well known companies.

Sharon Meers leads global business development and sales for X.commerce, the open commerce platform of eBay, helping merchants grow with better technology. Formerly, Meers was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where she worked for 16 years and was co-chair of the Women's Network in the Investment Management Division. She and her husband founded the Partners for Parity at Stanford Business School and the Dual-Career Initiative at Harvard.

Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer at Facebook. Prior to Facebook, she was vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google and chief of staff at the U.S. Treasury Department. Sheryl lives in Menlo Park, CA, with her husband and their two children.

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Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I sure wish when I was first having kids this book was available. I had kids through law school and often had to beg my professors for time to finish assignments because I was up late with the kids, caring for them etc. Doesn’t help that my partner had a gambling addiction and would stay out at hours. Reading this now, in a new life, in a new family, is extremely helpful. Parenting is a partnership, and you both need to treat it as a 50/50 opportunity. You both get time to yourselves and alone. To stay sane, you need these. I sure didn’t have that at first and I went crazy. It’s give and take. This book really explores that and I’m grateful for their solid advice and impressive attention to both men and women.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book that I wished my parents read. It teaches everyone an essential lesson: a father needs to be with his kids as much as a mother. It tells how to balance work with family. I was glad to see the book agreed that a working mother isn't really a bad thing. But what really got me was when it talked about how a job can affect one's home. It just reminded me of a Dad when he came back from a tough day at work. Honestly, this book should be a requirement for all parents. What are you waiting for? Get it!
LAWonder More than 1 year ago
Getting to 50'50 is written for working parents, trying to juggle home and family.  It's primary objective is to aid parents in a working an acceptable solution to the problems that evolve when both parents try to build their careers without neglecting their children in any way. The book is divided in to three parts. Part one entails the virtues of having both parents working.   Part two centers on getting rid of "myths" about both parents working. Part three suggests ways to make the 50/50 theory work in one's own situation. While many good points are made in each section, in my opinion, it is too utopian. The positive side...In rare cases this system could work. For an increasing amount of single parents,  this book can offer helpful ideas and reduce the amount of parental guilt the single parent often feels. It could be used as a guideline in finding help through a child care assistant. Another positive point is, there is still inequality in the work force. A woman is often not given equal pay for the same work a man does. In some instance a woman is still passed over for promotions, simply because she is a woman. As stated in the book, this situation has improved greatly since the movement in the 6o's and 70's but it is still there.  The final positive point, I find, is that although the problem is increasingly diminishing, men still are under the misconception that their work is outside the home and the home and children are the wife's/mother's responsibility.  This idea had some merit when men and boys worked the fields and did outside chores before dawn until after dark. They worked very hard, physical labor and required hearty meals and a little relaxation which often entailed reading the bible or other stories to the families encircled about them - either father, mother, or an older sibling. Then exhausted, thy all fell into bed for much needed slumber. Te women taught the daughters from young toddlers to do their share of the household work. That was a strong family unit. The negative side... First: There are too many situations in life causing 50/50 not to work. Perhaps a spouse develops health issues. Their strength and endurance will not match the other spouses. often one spouse is capable of more because of higher energy levels.  Secondly:Often the two marry when both are still earning degrees. Often one must quit school and work while the other pursues their degree. Hopefully, once that happens, he/she will then work extra hard to enable the other too continue their education. Sometimes a child is born, causing the mother to quit the schooling for a period of time. If the husband is working up the "corporate ladder" he cannot be expected to take over child care also, if there are not funds to hire a nanny to help. (That can also prove disastrous.) Final negative, It may be fine from a woman's point of view, but as stated in the book, most men do not have the same nurturing instincts and capabilities most women have - I say most because there are exception to the basic rule. I thoroughly believe the father should have an active role in the physical care and nurturing of each child. but primarily the woman is usually more effective in this role. It is marvelous, however, in this day and age, many parents can stay at home and still be employed. I feel this is especially true for women who feel they need the extra distraction from the daily duties of motherhood. It allows them to pursue a career from home and still "be there" for their children.  It also allows them to better control of the times they need to be other places.  Marriage is sometimes 20/80 and other times 60/40. depending on certain situations one has to carry the larger load and in other times he/she will then carry the lesser load. Anyway, hoe many men/women actually end up in the career he/she majored in at college? I think this is a good reference book.  Although the authors try to appear to be objective, it is very biased toward encouraging all women to be career oriented.  It is also way to "wordy" and t times repetitive. They have good intentions and went to a lot of research to solidify their points. I therefore, have to give them a book review rating of Three solid Stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book for my best friend who has a 50/50 family and constantly juggles and struggles; she was able to work with her husband and work things out much better thanks to the wisdom of Meers and Strobel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What I find particularly remarkable about this book is that from the beginning, the authors clearly allot fathers an important role in child development. They say that having more paternal influence in a child's life can improve anything from SAT scores to lifetime self-esteem. It's incredibly interesting, especially in today's society that champions single-mother households. The chapter that breaks down taxes is quite informative as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Knowledgeable book and a great guide for parents looking to balance between home and work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for any woman in the workforce - gives great info and advice about career advancement, gender bias, and unique challenges working women face. Will be saving for when I have a family one day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There has been so much progress in regards to women’s rights, but do children hold us back from our desired career? To me the answer has always been yes, and as someone who is not a parent I want to know that there will be a way to balance my life. I want to be able to meet my professional goals and still have kids. Getting to 50/50 explains that it is possible and realistic to have it both. This book is freeing for someone who doesn't have kids yet because it means I don’t have to fear that everything in my professional life stop if I get pregnant.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Meers and Stronber gracefully articulate how parents can reach the best balance possible with work, home, school, kids, and social lives. 50/50 addresses issues with poignancy and clarity that not any other authors can bring to this field. I would highly recommend this book to any parent struggling to reach that 50/50 balance.
Scarlet_Slept More than 1 year ago
Full disclosure: I don't actually have kids. Nonetheless, this book speaks to me on many levels: with advice for my career as well as my relationships. I'm guilty of the 24/7 workplace mindset, and 50/50 is helping me realize that maybe I'd do better work if I weren't constantly exhausted. It also lays a roadmap of how to get to an equal relationship. How do you date while feminist? How do you plan for an equal division of work at home and in the office? Sharon and Joanna have the answers, and they lay out their (research-backed) arguments cleanly and concisely. I'll be sending this book to my mother and my close friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a woman, I know what it's like to feel inferior in the workplace BUT, I also know what it's like to prove people wrong. In Getting to 50/50, Joanna Strober and Sharon Meers give personal experiences, advice, philosophies, and more to their readers, inspiring working women (mainly mothers and wives) to persevere.  This book strives to achieve and maintain equal opportunities in the workforce, how to manage a happy family, how to be successful AND busy simultaneously, and how to keep sane in the process. Don't give up, ladies, this is the book for you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I first picked up this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how... GOOD it is. Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober truly collected useful, practical, reasonable advice to help working parents get the most out of their lives. Their take on these issues is refreshing, and I really feel like I can do it all and have it all with the help of this book. I definitely recommend this book to working parents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago