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Book Review: Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay

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Here’s a fresh look at the need for parents, especially women, to handle work-life, family-life conflicts. Journalist-authors, Claire Shipman (ABC-TV) and Katty Kay (BBC), look at the economics of a woman’s world and the power of women in business and commerce. With Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success, they turn the problem into an opportunity to recognize what women are better at, and to use those strengths to get what you need in the workplace.

The authors define Womenomics as power, a movement that will get you the work life you really want, and the powerful collision of two simple realities: a majority of women are demanding new rules of engagement at the very moment we’ve become the hot commodity in today’s workplace.

If you’ve ever thought: “Why does it sometimes feel there are no good choices?” you’ll be relieved to see these two women have done your homework for you, leading you to choose, not compromise.

Through candid case-studies, examples in their own lives, and useful what-if exercises, you can negotiate through the worst conflicts if your job’s demand is pulling you away from a meaningful family life.

Author Shipman is senior national correspondent on Good Morning America, and Katty Kay covers American politics and society for the BBC. In juggling their own work/family conflicts, they relate their personal experiences and from there, build something much bigger to examine the possibilities for happiness for the majority of women who want it all – family, work, status and satisfaction.

We always want more and better quality of both workplace and family life, but can it be done? Can you enjoy corporate work commitments, business travel, and still put your children to bed?

In a timely passage, Shipman quotes Michelle Obama: “It’s always guilt-filled. Constant guilt surrounds working women and mothers no matter what you decide to do. No matter what decision you make at any point in time, you feel like you should be doing something more on the other end.”

With the reality of women’s core fantasies revolving around having emotionally richer and saner lives, the authors remind us no woman is alone in that desire. We do have the power to demand that companies adapt to us and can negotiate for more of what we want. Womenomics shows you how to join the revolution.

As evidence that companies now realize that more women at a company can mean more profit, Shipman and Kay refer to an “asset-to-estrogen” ratio. Their research supports the notion, since at companies with the best record of promotion women outperformed their industry average by:

  • 116 percent in equity,
  • 46 percent in revenue, and
  • 41 percent in assets.

By the end of the first chapter, Womenomics shows how you can turn around a work-family struggle by holding power. To see what this power looks like, and learn how to own control of the demands placed on you, keep reading about new ways of working.

Flexibility in work affects not only women, but as in so many areas of life, if women lead the charge, women can improve conditions for everyone seeking more balance:

  • 78 percent of couples in the U.S. are dual-income earners
  • 63 percent of us believe we don’t have enough time for our spouses or partners
  • 74 percent of us say we don’t have enough time for our children
  • 35 percent of adults are putting significant time toward caring for an elder relative.

Do we want it all? Can we even do it all? Is it worth it? These are the questions you’ll find yourself asking.

I was particularly buoyed by the work cited by Lois Backon at the Family and Work Institute. “Reduced aspirations do not mean employees are not talented or good at what they do. Most do want to feel engaged by their jobs.” But they also need to make choices that don’t shut out either work or family.

Are you ready to learn how to define your own path? Womenomics cites many creative management programs that allow employees to do just that. For one Chicago law firm, a switch to a two-tier pay scale, for those who want to bill more hours, and those who want to slow down, led to more than half of the associates choosing the reduced schedule.

So, do a gut check, decide what you value most, and get ready for the next step: “Chapter 7: Nine Rules to Negotiate Nirvana: How to Change your Whole Work Deal.”

Use these steps to plant the seeds and build a model for a balanced personal and work life, where you’re rewarded and judged by achievement rather than hours behind a desk.

Ready to seek meaningful change but scared to try? Authors Shipman and Kay have built a platform for discussion at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Womenomics with links to their blogs.

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About Helen Gallagher