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Having It All: A Website About Choices Women Face Today

abstract:Marguerite Dorn and Carol O'Day are the founders of a new website and consulting business that addresses the work-life and work-family balance that women face. Check out www.thenewhavingitall.com. It's the age-old modern dilemna: stay home to be with your children or leave them to keep a job? There are likely as many variations to this spectrum as there are women with families. Everyone's circumstances are different. Some things are within your control, many things are not. How do we, as a society, rate on the scorecard of motherhood? Join us at BookBuffet as we explore the business concept that two former power-house professional women are carving out for themselves to help make a difference for the rest of us, while they maintain balance in their own lives.

article:

September 03, 2008
— &linkCode

Meet The Girls

Marguerite began her professional career in 1985, as a graduate from Boston College Law School. She practiced law privately in Boston, specializing in complex commercial litigation. In 1992, with the birth of her first child, Marguerite began an academic career. She taught law at both Suffolk University Law School and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where she lived with her family for six years. As the mother of two teenage daughters (and one enlightened son), Marguerite believes passionately in each individual’s power to create a life of optimal achievement and balance.

Carol began her legal career in Baltimore, Maryland in 1987, after attending New York University School of Law and graduating from Boston College Law School. She relocated to Boston in 1991, where she continued her business litigation practice. In 1994, Carol moved with her husband and family to Los Angeles, where her second child was born. Though she enjoyed raising her children, Carol missed the personal and intellectual fulfillment of her professional life. She began a writing career, formed a writer’s group, and participated in professional writing workshops, conferences and associations. Carol relies upon continual and thoughtful planning to negotiate a balance between her professional and family lives, both of which are essential to her sense of personal fulfillment and achievement.

What They Do

They consult with women at every life stage along the sequencing spectrum, in all walks of life, in all types of industries. Through coaching, consulting, workshops and seminars Marguerite and Carol offer advice such as:

PLAN AHEAD for young professionals

The PLAN AHEAD presentation teaches college and graduate students tangible strategies to succeed in balancing the personal and professional lives upon which they are poised to embark. Geared to college seniors and graduate-level students

ON THE EDGE for new parents

The ON THE EDGE presentation is useful for all young parents and parents-to-be. Its mission is to provide a fair and balanced discussion of both sides of the stay home/return to work debate.

HAVE IT ALL balancing work and home

The HAVE IT ALL presentation is geared to anyone determined to reconcile the competing demands of family and work and committed to being successful in both realms.

OPT OUT/REENTER strategic exit and reentry

OPT OUT/RAMP BACK is designed to guide job-hunting mothers who have taken time off for parenting.

SCALE BACK for mature professionals

The SCALE BACK presentation is appropriate for anyone currently working at a level and pitch that is inconsistent with long-term success.

REINVENT addressing midlife

Studies show that 75 percent of Baby Boomers say they want to work, and more than half of those want to start a new career. The presentation is highly effective in guiding midlife "Boomers" to plan for balance in this exciting, yet somewhat unexplored, midlife terrain.

The Website and the Blog

This month's Having It All newsletter talks about the research of Pamela Stone, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and CUNY. Their review of Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home begins,

    "...who says that "the Opt Out" generation of women who left work is a myth. Fully eighty-four percent (84%) of all college-educated women with children continue to participate in the workforce by working outside the home rather that undertaking solely the work of the home. While 25% of college-educated women with children under the age of six are at home raising children. What are the factors that lead women to quit professional careers, head home, and often stay there? She studied a select (and elite) group of college and graduate-educated women (her cohort largely received graduate degrees in business, law or medical degrees from elite institutions from the mid-1970's to early-2000's), and probes beneath the so-called "choice" these women made to leave their careers and stay at home to raise their children.

    Her striking conclusion? Stone says these high achieving women did not make a "choice" but defaulted to this decision because of a lack of choice. These women did not "opt" to leave successful careers; they were mothers compelled to leave a workforce which did not accommodate their motherhood... The workforce offered them: no genuine flexibility in work hours and structure; a culture of extreme work hours; a gap between workplace policies on leave and flexibility and the actual, idiosyncratic, boss-or-manager-dependent application of those policies; lack of meaningful part-time work; absence of female role models and female managers; no insufficiently sophisticated telecommuting technologies; and high demands for travel. Family pulls were equally weighty: baby love; children's school demands; the new culture of intensive parenting; the exhausting women-borne "second shift" of household management; and husbands who were unwilling or unable (because of their own lack of workplace flexibility) to step up and adjust their own work-life balance to accommodate wives' desires to continue working.

    Once home, formerly high-achieving professional women experience several phenomena—an enhanced connection to their children; a crisis of identity upon relinquishing their professional identity and a resulting loss of confidence about their futures; a culture of intensive parenting which compels them into the world of professionalization of motherhood and volunteerism; an almost paradoxical shift to traditional family roles; greater absence and unavailability of formerly egalitarian spouses turned sole-bread-winners and enormous uncertainty about their future as members of the workforce.

    So, can you opt out of a professional career and still have it all? How? What will that all look like for you? Stone's Opting Out? will give you insight into the buried or repressed components of your decision to exit your career, either temporarily or permanently—the ones that leave you unsettled on some deeper level, the part that still squirms when you are asked "So, what do you do?" at a post-career cocktail party."

What I like about the site is its intellectual level and professionalism. It's not about griping and complaining, resignation or gloating. These women have identified a niche and are using their educations, experience and resources to provide women with answers to the work-family balancing dilemma - at every stage of the game.

As a book reviewer and editor of a literary site, I scoured their Resource Library page. When ever I've had a question or concern, I've consulted a book. My friends have their own perspectives and circumstances, and I respect them. But aside from the support-group aspect of our friendships, I prefer to "learn my way out of it."

Here are a few titles that appealed to me.

Additional websites to browse

  • http://www.w2wventures.com
  • http://www.workingmother.com
  • http://www.themothersmovement.org
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