Sharing the Work: What My Family and Career Taught Me about Breaking Through (and Holding the Door Open for Others)

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MIT Press, 2016 - Biography & Autobiography - 238 pages

The tumultuous life and career of a woman who fought gender bias on multiple fronts—in theory and in practice, for herself and for us all.

“Myra Strober's Sharing the Work is the memoir of a woman who has learned that 'having it all' is only possible by 'sharing it all,' from finding a partner who values your work as much as you do, to fighting for family-friendly policies. You will learn that finding allies is crucial, blending families after divorce is possible, and that there is neither a good time nor a bad time to have children. Both women and men will find a friend in these pages.”
—Gloria Steinem

Myra Strober became a feminist on the Bay Bridge, heading toward San Francisco. It is 1970. She has just been told by the chairman of Berkeley's economics department that she can never get tenure. Driving home afterward, wondering if she got something out of the freezer for her family's dinner, she realizes the truth: she is being denied a regular faculty position because she is a mother. Flooded with anger, she also finds her life's work: to study and fight sexism, in the workplace, in academia, and at home.

Strober's generous memoir captures the spirit of a revolution lived fully, from her Brooklyn childhood (and her shock at age twelve when she's banished to the women's balcony at shul) to her groundbreaking Stanford seminar on women and work. Strober's interest in women and work began when she saw her mother's frustration at the limitations of her position as a secretary. Her consciousness of the unfairness of the usual distribution of household chores came when she unsuccessfully asked her husband for help with housework. Later, when a group of conservative white male professors sputtered at the idea of government-subsidized child care, Strober made the case for its economic benefits.

In the 1970s, the term “sexual harassment” had not yet been coined. Occupational segregation, quantifying the value of work in the home, and the cost of discrimination were new ideas. Strober was a pioneer, helping to create a new academic field and founding institutions to establish it. But she wasn't alone: she benefited from the women's movement, institutional change, and new federal regulations that banned sex discrimination. She continues the work today and invites us to join her.

 

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Contents

1 Sisterhood Is Powerful 19701971
3
II 19501970
23
2 Banished to the Balcony 19501953
25
3 A Boost Up 19541958
37
4 Into the Sanctum 19581964
55
5 Add Children and Stir 19641970
79
III 19712012
105
6 Where the Rubber Hits the Road 19711972
107
8 Forging New Doors 19741981
137
9 Reinvention 19821989
163
10 Flow 19892000
179
11 Transformation 20002012
201
12 Lessons Learned about Sharing the Work
213
Acknowledgments
221
Index
223
Copyright

7 Ninety Men and Me 19721974
123

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About the author (2016)

Myra Strober is a labor economist. She is Professor (Emerita) at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, and Professor of Economics at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (by courtesy). She is the coauthor of The Road Winds Uphill All the Way: Gender, Work, and Family in the United States and Japan (MIT Press).

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