When Work Doesn't Work Anymore
For many women who work, the workplace no longer offers the satisfaction and challenge it once did. Committed to careers they frequently have spent years building -- careers that generally go to the very core of their self-definitions -- these women find that they are becoming less fulfilled and more exhausted. Their lives are out of balance; a happy mix of personal and professional, spiritual and material eludes them. In an era that celebrates women "having it all" they are finding that they don't -- and, sadly, coming to the conclusion that they are somehow at fault.
The fact is, there is nothing wrong with today's working women. There is something wrong with today's work culture. Immersed in a structure designed for a different generation of men who had wives at home to take care of life outside the office, today's working woman struggles to meet two opposing sets of demands and expectations -- professional and personal -- and two opposing equations for success -- as a feminine woman and as a valued worker. In truth, she can't win. The result of her attempts to do so is a crisis of values, not lifestyles: the question is not one of work vs. home, but, rather, what price are women paying to "fit in" with a culture that does not share their values or respond to their needs.
Enter Elizabeth Perle McKenna. In her groundbreaking and timely new book When Work Doesn't Work Anymore: Women, Work, and Identity, McKenna draws on interviews with hundreds of women--from housewives to CEOs to such familiar and respected women as Gloria Steinem, Anna Quindlen, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin--to illustrate the deep rift in the lives of many of today's working women, and the critical need for a new professional culture. McKenna shatters the myth of having it all, and shows that a life out of balance is never a path to success, but a profoundly dissatisfying route to unhappiness, self-doubt, and isolation. She knows from whence she speaks. McKenna spent eighteen years in the publishing profession, working her way up from the ground floor to the top of her field as associate publisher at Bantam and publisher at Prentice-Hall, Addison-Wesley, and William Morrow/Avon Books. At the height of her success, she realized her work wasn't working for her anymore. The cost of success to the rest of her life was steep. She was miserable. Feeling she had to make a choice between her life and her work, she left Morrow and, without her work identity, everything fell apart.
Through her own and hundreds of other women's experience, McKenna shows that women "stopped the revolution too soon." They may have approached parity in the work world but they've stopped short of changing a culture utterly at odds with the realities of their lives. When Work Doesn't Work Anymore examines women's complex relationships with their work--both through their need and desire to work, and the cost to their lives of doing so--and urges them to bring their values of home and family, friendship, community, and meaning to the workplace. Wise and provocative, McKenna encourages women to reassess and change a work culture that has never fully embraced the way they live, to seek a balance between professional and private spheres, and to strive for more integrated lives by recognizing the importance of building lives around personal value systems.
With wit, insight, and fierce intellect, Elizabeth Perle McKenna has written an enormously important book that will pave the way for transforming the workplace into one where women can lead more satisfying lives -- and be happier, more productive employees.
From the Hardcover edition.
"McKenna's book will likely become influential ...Frequently quoting from her talks with Gloria Steinem, Anna Quindlen and Letty Cottin Pogrebin, McKenna ...joins their prominence as a voice worth listening to."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From the Hardcover edition.