Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family

Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family

by Anne-Marie Slaughter


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Includes a new afterword by the author • “Slaughter’s gift for illuminating large issues through everyday human stories is what makes this book so necessary for anyone who wants to be both a leader at work and a fully engaged parent at home.”—Arianna Huffington


When Anne-Marie Slaughter accepted her dream job as the first female director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department in 2009, she was confident she could juggle the demands of her position in Washington, D.C., with the responsibilities of her family life in suburban New Jersey. Her husband and two young sons encouraged her to pursue the job; she had a tremendously supportive boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and she had been moving up on a high-profile career track since law school. But then life intervened. Parenting needs caused her to make a decision to leave the State Department and return to an academic career that gave her more time for her family.

The reactions to her choice to leave Washington because of her kids led her to question the feminist narrative she grew up with. Her subsequent article for The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” created a firestorm, sparked intense national debate, and became one of the most-read pieces in the magazine’s history.

Since that time, Anne-Marie Slaughter has pushed forward, breaking free of her long-standing assumptions about work, life, and family. Though many solutions have been proposed for how women can continue to break the glass ceiling or rise above the “motherhood penalty,” women at the top and the bottom of the income scale are further and further apart.

Now, in her refreshing and forthright voice, Anne-Marie Slaughter returns with her vision for what true equality between men and women really means, and how we can get there. She uncovers the missing piece of the puzzle, presenting a new focus that can reunite the women’s movement and provide a common banner under which both men and women can advance and thrive.

With moving personal stories, individual action plans, and a broad outline for change, Anne-Marie Slaughter reveals a future in which all of us can finally finish the business of equality for women and men, work and family.

“I’m confident that you will be left with Anne-Marie’s hope and optimism that we can change our points of view and policies so that both men and women can fully participate in their families and use their full talents on the job.”—Hillary Rodham Clinton

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

An eye-opening call to action from someone who rethought the whole notion of ‘having it all,’ Unfinished Business could change how many of us approach our most important business: living.”People
“Another clarion call from [Anne-Marie] Slaughter . . . Her case for revaluing and better compensating caregiving is compelling. . . . Slaughter skillfully exposes half-truths in the workplace [and] makes it a point in her book to speak beyond the elite.”—Jill Abramson, The Washington Post
“Slaughter argues that the current punishing route to professional success—or simply to survival—is stalling gender progress. . . . [Her] important contribution is to use her considerable platform to call for cultural change, itself profoundly necessary. The book’s audience, then, shouldn’t just be worried womankind. It should go right into the hands of (still mostly male) decision-makers.”Los Angeles Times
“Slaughter should be applauded for devising a ‘new vocabulary’ to identify a broad, misclassified social phenomenon. And she is razor-sharp on outlining the cultural shifts necessary to give caregiving its due. . . . By putting these issues on the agenda, Slaughter has already taken an essential first step.”The Economist
“A meaningful correction to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In . . . For Slaughter, it is organizations—not women—that need to change.”Slate

“The mother of a manifesto for working women . . . Anecdotes from [Slaughter’s] own life and others are deftly interwoven with research, making Unfinished Business a compelling and lively read.”Financial Times

“Anne-Marie Slaughter insists that we ask ourselves hard questions. After reading Unfinished Business, I’m confident that you will be left with Anne-Marie’s hope and optimism that we can change our points of view and policies so that both men and women can fully participate in their families and use their full talents on the job.”—Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Anne-Marie Slaughter’s gift for illuminating large issues through everyday human stories is what makes this book so necessary for anyone who wants to be both a leader at work and a fully engaged parent at home.”—Arianna Huffington
“With breathtaking honesty Anne-Marie Slaughter tackles the challenges of often conflicted working mothers and working fathers and shows how we can craft the lives we want for our families. Her book will spark a national conversation about what we need to do to live saner, more satisfying lives.”—Katie Couric
Unfinished Business is an important read for women and men alike. Slaughter shows us that when people share equally the responsibility of caring for others, they are healthier, economies prosper, and both women and men are freer to lead the lives they want.”—Melinda Gates

Publishers Weekly

As this heartfelt book relates, when the author (The Idea That Is America) left her Princeton University professorship in 2009 to work on policy for then–Secretary of State Clinton, her sons were 10 and 12. Slaughter could only get home on weekends, and before long she found her children were suffering from her absences. Her conflicted feelings resulted in her much-read Atlantic piece, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” which she expands here. “Lean in too far without a counterweight... and you will tip over,” Slaughter warns. As she explains, her tipping point led her not only to leave D.C. but also to more widely examine the challenges of caregiving in the U.S. Slaughter also takes a fresh and informative look at recent advances made by feminists, finding that though much has changed since the women’s movement came to prominence, the movement is still “only halfway home.” She provides concrete steps for the remaining journey, concluding that until society learns to value care (of children and the elderly) as much as competition, there will never be true gender equality, in the workplace or elsewhere. If heeded by Americans, her thoughtful analysis could cause a sea change in how they value their jobs and one another. Agent: Will Lippincott, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Oct.)

Library Journal

In 2012, the Atlantic published a now famous cover article "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." Slaughter has expanded that article into a well-written and -researched book, further outlining the corporate and societal expectations that result in ever-increasing professional and family demands. Slaughter begins by explaining why she felt compelled to leave a coveted position at the U.S. State Department to return to her family and teaching career at Princeton University and how others reacted to that move. The juxtaposition of her ambition and feminist ideals with the realities of marriage and child rearing (and the need for sleep) has led her to call for more focus "work/life fit" and less on requiring long hours on the job for career advancement. The author states the radical idea that parenting and caregiving should be as respected as any other professional role. While she's most likely preaching to the choir, the joint themes of working smarter not harder and giving caregiving its due respect will resonate with a wide audience. VERDICT Based on the popularity of the article, this book will be in strong demand. Recommended for all libraries. [See Editors' Picks, p. 30; Prepub Alert, 3/30/15.]—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH

Kirkus Reviews

One woman's vision on how to create gender equality for men and women. After New America Foundation CEO Slaughter's (The Idea that Is America, 2008, etc.) 2012 Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All," created a whirlwind of debate on both sides of the issue, she realized the "fifty-year-old conversation about what true equality between men and women really means" was still open to definition. In this comprehensive analysis, the author interweaves thoughts about the necessity of equal time at home and at work with her personal story of juggling a career as the first female director of policy planning, reporting directly to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her deep desire and need to be at home with her sons. Slaughter skillfully breaks down old myths and offers useful advice on how, with slight twists and tweaks, the old theories can be reinvented into methods that are readily accessible and actionable. With strong research, the author outlines the inherent problems that still exist in the workplace, which create an unequal atmosphere, particularly for women, who are often seen as "giving up" a career if they elect to spend more time with their children. She offers solid advice on how these disparities can be changed, allowing workers to have more flexibility. Her advice includes using at-home independent contractors and freelancers, using OpenWork ("a platform and movement…a way of working, a spirit and set of values that animates a particular workplace"), and focusing on results rather than on the steps to get there. Although much of this is common sense, the fact that men and women do not yet share equal pay for equal work or receive fair treatment in regard to time off for child care only underlines the need for this kind of ongoing conversation, a discussion over which Slaughter eloquently presides. Informative guidance on how men and women can come together in the workforce and at home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812984972
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/09/2016
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 895,576
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Less Can Be More
During the 2014 Super Bowl, Cadillac ran an ad that was meant to be a celebration of American workaholism. It showed a clean- cut fifty-something white man with blazing blue eyes walking and talking his way through his mansion while extolling the virtues of the American work ethic. “Other countries, they work, they stroll home, they stop by the café, they take August off. Off. Why aren’t you  like that?  Why  aren’t  we like that?  Because we’re crazy, driven, hardworking believers,” says the guy, who looks like a car- toon version of a one-percenter, to the camera. The moral of the ad: If you just work hard enough, avoiding vacation and “creating your own luck,” anything, including the ownership of a $75,000 car, is possible.
The  ad drove me crazy. The  man was so smug and so com- pletely out of touch with what I consider to be the real values that Americans have traditionally  proclaimed and tried to pass down to their children. Yes, Europeans and others often criticize Amer- ican culture for being materialistic, but when Thomas  Jefferson described humankind’s “unalienable rights” in the Declaration  of Independence, he took English Enlightenment philosopher  John Locke’s “life, liberty, and estate” and substituted “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And as the behavioral psychologists tell us, happiness is more likely to be found in the pleasures of human connection  and experience—a good meal, a play or movie or sporting event, a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of champagne— than it is in an endless catalogue of possessions.

I wasn’t alone in my reaction. One reporter wrote, “You know what really needs attention?  What working like crazy and taking no time off really gets us[?]” It gets Americans to the grave earlier, it’s made us more anxious than people in other developed coun- tries, and it’s created  a group  of people more  disengaged from their jobs than in countries with more leisure time.
In the end, it was New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin who made the most damning argument  against the commercial. As we were talking about it, he pointed out that Cadillac was disparaging the vacation-loving Europeans  in an effort to sell luxury cars to a wealthy U.S. audience who prefer German BMWs and Mercedes. Last  I  checked,  German   workers  get  a  mandated   minimum twenty days of vacation every year. 
It’s that simple. German  workers work at least two weeks a year less than American workers do and yet produce better  cars. Perhaps  that is because German  managers still subscribe to the empirical findings that led Henry Ford to establish an eight-hour workday in 1914. When Ford looked at in-house research, he realized that manual laborers were finished after eight hours of work a day. After he cut hours, errors went down, and productiv- ity, employee satisfaction, and company profits went up.

We actually have a growing body of data in support  of the proposition that working less means working better. According to much  more  recent  research,  people  who work principally  with their brains rather than their hands have an even shorter amount of real daily productivity than manual laborers. Microsoft em- ployees, for instance, reported  that they put in only twenty-eight productive hours in a forty-five-hour workweek—a little less than six hours  a day. Futurist  Sara Robinson  found the same thing: knowledge  workers have fewer than  eight hours  a day of hard mental labor in them before they start making mistakes.

This relationship between working better and working less holds particularly true in any job requiring creativity, the well- spring of innovation. Experts on creativity emphasize the value of nonlinear  thinking  and cultivated randomness,  from long walks to looking at your environment in ways you never have before. Making time for play, as well as designated  downtime,  has also been found to boost creativity. Experts suggest we should change the rhythm  of our workdays to include periods in which we are simply letting our minds run wherever they want to go. Without play, we might never be able to make the unexpected connections that are the essence of insight.

Customer Reviews