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Economics Department Link to Economics Department Macalester College

F.R. Bigelow Professor of Economics

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192 pp. • 5.5 x 8.5 in. • 2 figures
ISBN 0820334049 paper • $19.95
UGA Press

Media Events:

Minnesota Public Radio
Midmorning, 91.1
October 2, 2009 10-11 AM
Listen here

The Tafoya Show with
Michele Tafoya
November 2, 4:00 PM

FOX-9 Morning Buzz
December 12, 2009

KARE-11 Showcase Minnesota
December 21, 2009
Watch here!

Head Over Heels, Women's Business Radio with Host
Bonnie Marcus
VoiceAmerica Talk Radio
August 31, 2010
Listen here

Glass Ceilings and 100-Hour Couples
What the Opt-Out Phenomenon Can Teach Us about Work and Family

by Karine Moe and Dianna Shandy

When significant numbers of college-educated American women began, in the early twenty-first century, to leave paid work to become stay-at-home mothers, an emotionally charged national debate erupted. Karine Moe and Dianna Shandy, a professional economist and an anthropologist, respectively, decided to step back from the sometimes overheated rhetoric around the so-called mommy wars. They wondered what really inspired women to opt out, and they wanted to gauge the phenomenon's genuine repercussions. Glass Ceilings and 100-Hour Couples is the fruit of their investigation--a rigorous, accessible, and sympathetic reckoning with this hot-button issue in contemporary life.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews from around the country, original survey research, and national labor force data, Moe and Shandy refocus the discussion of women who opt out from one where they are the object of scrutiny to one where their aspirations and struggles tell us about the far broader swath of American women who continue to juggle paid work and family. Moe and Shandy examine the many pressures that influence a woman's decision to resign, reduce, or reorient her career. These include the mismatch between child-care options and workplace demands, the fact that these women married men with demanding careers, the professionalization of stay-at-home motherhood, and broad failures in public policy. But Moe and Shandy are equally attentive to the resilience of women in the face of life decisions that might otherwise threaten their sense of self-worth. Moe and Shandy find, for instance, that women who have downsized their careers stress the value of social networks--of "running with a pack of smart women" who've also chosen to emphasize motherhood over paid work.


Click here to read the review in the Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2009

"Glass Ceilings and 100-Hour Couples discusses the choices that college-educated women face in balancing family and career, with a particular focus on why a significant share of well-educated women elect to leave the labor market entirely. The book is well written and engaging reading. It has a nice combination of data and stories, showing the barriers that women continue to face in trying to be both good parents and good employees. Anyone interested in women's changing patterns of work/family choices will find this book worth reading." --Rebecca M. Blank, author of It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty

"Moe and Shandy have written a comprehensive account of the many reasons behind the 'opt-out revolution.' Their engaging presentation makes for a fascinating read--one that will be of interest to anyone who feels the disconnect between the current state of work/life balance in this country, and senses that possibilities exist for something so much better." --Elrena Evans, coeditor of Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life

"This insightful and wide-ranging analysis of the work/family choices of college-educated women in America will appeal to everyone who has tried (and inevitably failed) to be both the ideal worker and the perfect parent. The authors, an economist and an anthropologist, combine current research and in-depth interviews to examine the experiences of mothers who decide to 'opt out' of the hectic life of a two-career couple and the cultural and economic forces that shape their choices." --Shelly Lundberg, Castor Professor of Economics, University of Washington