The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink


Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson called for a War on Poverty and enlisted Sargent Shriver to oversee it, the most important social issue of our day is once again the dire economic straits of millions of Americans. 1 in 3 Americans today live in poverty or teeter on the brink. 70 million are women and the children who depend on them. The fragile economic status of millions of American women is the shameful secret of the modern era—yet these women are also our ...

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Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson called for a War on Poverty and enlisted Sargent Shriver to oversee it, the most important social issue of our day is once again the dire economic straits of millions of Americans. 1 in 3 Americans today live in poverty or teeter on the brink. 70 million are women and the children who depend on them. The fragile economic status of millions of American women is the shameful secret of the modern era—yet these women are also our greatest hope for change, and our nation’s greatest undervalued asset.

The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink asks—and answers—big questions. Why are millions of women financially vulnerable when others have made such great progress? Why are millions of women struggling to make ends meet even though they are hard at work? What is it about our nation—government, business, family, and even women themselves—that drives women to the financial brink? And what is at stake?

To answer these questions, we examined in detail three major cultural and economic changes over the past 50 years:

  • Women work more outside the home, but still earn less than men.
  • Women lead more families on their own.
  • Women today need higher education to enter the middle class.

To forge a path forward that recognizes this reality, The Shriver Report brought together a power packed roster of big thinkers and talented contributors, including Hillary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Lebron James, and challenged them to collaborate with us to develop fresh thinking around practical solutions. This report’s unique combination of academic research, personal reflections, authentic photojournalism, groundbreaking poll results, front line workers, and box office celebrities, is all focused on a single issue of national importance: women and the economy. In The Shriver Report, Davos meets Main Street.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Hillary Clinton, Barbara Ehrenrich, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are among those who have contributed to this compilation of essays, photographs, and "day-in-the-life" accounts of women "living on the brink" of poverty, by Peabody Award-winning journalist, author, and former first lady of California Shriver. Beyoncé and Jennifer Garner are here, too, so serious conversations about policy achievements and disappointments are randomly interspersed with toothless, "we can do it"-style commentaries, along with well-meaning photographs and "Stunning Fact!" sidebars that are often unrelated to the text they accompany. In Beyoncé's case, a brief passage in support of equal wages is paired with a photograph of the five-time Grammy Award winner posing with an unidentified group of young women; adding to the confusion, the girls are wearing T-shirts touting Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. It's left to readers—high school and undergraduate students, most likely—to choose among detailed, well-documented discussions such as Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad's "Putting Women at the Center of Policymaking," Shriver's pleasant but not particularly useful reminiscences about her admirable parents (Eunice Kennedy and Sargent Shriver), and celebrity worship. VERDICT If the Shriver-Kennedy mystique (not to mention that of Beyoncé) gets people to think about the issues facing women living on the edge of poverty in the United States, this book has some merit.—Ellen Gilbert, Princeton, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137279743
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/11/2014
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 113,929
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s first lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation’s premier forum for women, The Women’s Conference.

The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action. CAP develops new, progressive policy ideas, challenges the media to cover the issues that truly matter, and shapes the national debate. Founded in 2003 by John Podesta to provide long-term leadership and support to the progressive movement, CAP is headed by Neera Tanden and based in Washington, DC.

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Table of Contents



A Photograph and life snapshot of Julie Kaas



By Neera Tanden

Part I: How We Got Here 8




Powerful and Powerless by Maria Shriver

When We Were 9, We Were Honest By Professor Carol Gilligan

A photograph and life snapshot of Nikki Brown

Gender Equality is a Myth! By Beyonce Knowles

Time to Wake Up: Stop Blaming Poverty on the Poor By Barbara Ehrenreich

The Workplace


A Woman’s Place is in the Middle Class by Heather Boushey

The Gender Wage Gap: A Civil Rights Issue for Our Time By Maya Harris

Making the Care Economy a Caring Economy By Ai-Jen Poo

Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Broke By Danielle Moddie-Mills

The Changing Face of American Women By Angela Glover Blackwell

Empowering Latinas By Eva Longoria

The Family


Marriage, Motherhood, and Men by Ann O’Leary

What About the Fathers? By Kathryn Edin

To the Brink and Back By Catherine Emmanuelle

America’s Working Single Mothers: An Appreciation By LeBron James

A Call to Men: Ending Men’s Violence Against Women By Tony Porter

Women and Poverty: The Role of Lawyers and Family Law By John Bouman

Marriage and Children, Another View By Ron Haskins

Evolution of the Modern American Family By Stephanie Coontz


Get Smart: A 21st Century Education by Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale and Nicole Smith

Turning Poverty Around: Training Parents to Help Their Kids By Jennifer Garner

Living the Head Start Dream By Almeta Keys

Preschool for All: The Path to America’s Middle-Class Promise By Sec. Arne Duncan and Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

Afterschool Programs: Investing in our Cities by Investing in our Kids By Mayor Betsy Price

Single Mother in College: Willpower and a Lot of Help By Cara Cortez

Higher Education: Interrupting the Cycle of Poverty By Eduardo Padron

Part II: Why We Must Push Back


The Consequences of Living on the Brink

The Chronic Stress of Poverty: Toxic to Children By Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

The Trap: Mental Illness and Women in Poverty By Dr. Ron Manderscheid

Human Trafficking and Slavery in the United States: ‘You Don’t See the Chains’

By Jada Pinkett Smith

Armed and Vulnerable: Women in the U.S. Military By Dr. Sonya Borrero

Part III: Solutions


Public Solutions


Putting Women At the Center of Policymaking: Public Solutions to Help Women Push Back From the Brink By Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad

We Have Blown a Huge Hole in Our Safety Net By Peter Edelman

From VISTA Corps to Shriver Corps: Providing Solutions for 50 Years By Shirley Sagawa

A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out By Idaho Governor C.L. Otter

On the Brink with a Disabled Child By Katie Bentley

The Circle of Protection: Balancing the Budget Does Not Require Burdening the Poor By Leith Anderson

Private Solutions


Private Solutions: What If Employers Put Women at the Center of Their Workplace Policies? By Ellen Galinsky, James T. Bond, and Eve Tahmincioglu

Smart Business: Reviving the American Dream By Howard Schultz

A photograph and life snapshot of Jessica McGowan

Empower Women and You Recharge the World By Muhtar Kent

Microfinancing Women: Great Return on Investment By Tory Burch

Personal Solutions


Personal Action, Collective Impact By Anne Mosle

Are Women Devalued by Religions? By Sister Joan Chittister

When Working Women Thrive, Our Nation Thrives By Sheryl Sandberg

A photograph and life snapshot of Britani Hood-Mongar

When Women Achieve Their Full Potential, So Will America By Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Part IV: Where Do We Go From Here


Where Do We Go From Here? By Olivia Morgan and Karen Skelton


Epilogue By Hillary Rodham Clinton



Failure to Adapt to Changing Families Leaves Women Economically Vulnerable By Anna Greenberg, David Walker, Alex Lundry, and Alicia Downs




About the Contributors

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