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Making Motherhood Work

Nonfiction: Social Science
Unabridged   10 hour(s)
Publication date: 02/12/2019

Making Motherhood Work

How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684417001
Digital Download ISBN:9781684417018


A moving, cross-national account of working mothers' daily lives—and the revolution in public policy and culture needed to improve them.

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Product Description

The work-family conflict that mothers experience today is a national crisis. Women struggle to balance breadwinning with the bulk of parenting, and stress is constant. Social policies don't help. Of all Western industrialized countries, the United States ranks dead last for supportive work-family policies: No federal paid parental leave. The highest gender wage gap. No minimum standard for vacation and sick days. Can American women look to European policies for solutions?

Drawing on interviews with 135 working mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States, Caitlyn Collins shows that mothers' desires and expectations depend heavily on context. In Sweden—renowned for its gender-equal policies—mothers assume they will receive support from their partners, employers, and the government. In the former East Germany, with its history of mandated employment, mothers don't feel conflicted about working, but some curtail their work hours and ambitions. Mothers in western Germany and Italy, where maternalist values are strong, are stigmatized for pursuing careers. Meanwhile, American working mothers stand apart for their guilt and worry. Policies alone, Collins discovers, cannot solve women's struggles. Easing them will require a deeper understanding of cultural beliefs about gender equality, employment, and motherhood.


"Collins suggests that policies must be passed in packages, rather than piecemeal―for example, making sure that daycare is available for children at the age when parental leave ends―to be most useful. This study, whose comparative approach illuminates how cultural norms affect policies and economic results, is intelligent, thought-provoking, and clarifying." —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Author Bio

Caitlyn Collins is assistant professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work has been covered by the Atlantic, NPR, and the Washington Post. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.