A century ago, it was a given that a woman with a college degree had to choose between having a career and a family. Today, there are more female college graduates than ever before, and more women want to have a career and family, yet challenges persist at work and at home. This book traces how generations of women have responded to the problem of balancing career and family as the twentieth century experienced a sea change in gender equality, revealing why true equity for dual career couples remains frustratingly out of reach.
Drawing on decades of her own groundbreaking research, Claudia Goldin provides a fresh, in-depth look at the diverse experiences of college-educated women from the 1900s to today, examining the aspirations they formed—and the barriers they faced—in terms of career, job, marriage, and children. She shows how many professions are “greedy,” paying disproportionately more for long hours and weekend work, and how this perpetuates disparities between women and men. Goldin demonstrates how the era of COVID-19 has severely hindered women’s advancement, yet how the growth of remote and flexible work may be the pandemic’s silver lining.
Antidiscrimination laws and unbiased managers, while valuable, are not enough. Career and Family explains why we must make fundamental changes to the way we work and how we value caregiving if we are ever to achieve gender equality and couple equity.
Awards and Recognition
- An Economist Book of the Year
- A Behavioral Scientist's Notable Book
- A Wall Street Journal Favorite Political Book of the Year
- A FiveBooks Best Nonfiction Books of the Year
- Winner of the Richard A. Lester Book Award, Industrial Relations Section Industrial Relations Section
- A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year
"Career and Family is a radical book. It is also brilliantly researched and argued."—Lily Meyer, New Republic
"Career and Family . . . looks at how women have struggled to balance work and home over the decades. Among its many takeaways is the notion that female participation in the workplace changes the very nature of work.
"—Rana Foroohar, Financial Times
"Goldin weaves together complicated data sets that no one else thought to look at. . . . [She] brings such data to life."—Joan C. Williams, Times Literary Supplement
"There are many reasons to read [Career and Family]. The main one being that [it is] excellent. . . . Goldin is a natural teacher, which comes across on the page. The book is also, in some ways, deeply personal."—Emily Oster, ParentData
"Provocative and compelling."—The Economist
"A new book by Claudia Goldin of Harvard University, an expert on women and work . . . traces the history of work and family for college-educated women, and diagnoses what still troubles their careers today."—The Economist
"In this deeply researched, engagingly written, and surprisingly personal book, Goldin summarizes the history and current state of gender disparities in employment and pay, both in general and specifically for college-educated women."—Barry Eichengreen, Foreign Affairs
"This is no ordinary book . . . . Goldin has written a chatty, readable sequel to [Betty] Friedan’s [The Feminine Mystique], destined itself to become a paperback best-seller – all the more persuasive because it is rooted in the work of hundreds of other labor economists and economic historians over the years.
"—David Warsh, Economic Principals
"Combining diligent research with acute observations, accessible case studies, and practical solutions, this is a refreshing take on a pernicious social problem."—Publishers Weekly
"A must-read for those who care about gender gaps. . . . Goldin does a compelling job of running through the historical data, providing the surrounding cultural context, and explaining how technological and legal changes affected women over the years. . . . In Career and Family, Goldin expertly lays out the history of college-grad women’s advances in the work force, and she carefully dissects where the remaining gender gap originates."—Robert VerBruggen, Institute for Family Studies
"This book is a must-read."—Melissa Davies, Society of Professional Economists
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the frustration of mothers who are fed up and exhausted. In a sweeping overview of a century of change in how women work and have families, Claudia Goldin gives this problem a name: greedy work. Her tour de force shows us where we have been and where we must go if women are ever to achieve full equality in their marriages and their jobs.”—Betsey Stevenson, University of Michigan
“This book is a must-read, especially for anyone balancing parenting with a career and frustrated with the disparate challenge on women in doing so. It is a powerful look at the history and data of the generations of women who have faced this challenge and the progress they made, and uses this history and data to show the way toward meaningful progress.”—Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better and Cribsheet
“Now, for the first time in history, women can have families and careers. Read Goldin’s masterpiece to understand the causes of this twentieth-century transformation and the pathway to gender equality.”—Alice Evans, King’s College London
“In classic fashion, Claudia Goldin carefully marshals a century’s worth of economic data to analyze gender inequity in the household and in the labor market. This sweeping, meticulously researched book is essential reading for those who seek to understand the dimensions and origins of the gender pay gap.”—Lisa D. Cook, Michigan State University
“Girls do better than boys in high school, and women are more likely than men to graduate from college, yet men still earn more than women. How come? Claudia Goldin is the expert on this question, and Career and Family provides a comprehensive answer in what is the equivalent of a historical novel spanning five generations. The book is concise, thorough, and completely engaging.”—Richard H. Thaler, coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness
“Career and Family provides real answers to a century’s worth of questions about the drivers of gender inequality. With the rigor of an economist and the deft touch of a humanist, Goldin combines data with individual life stories, leaving no doubt that the problem lies in the nature of work rather than the nature of women. After reading this book, it is impossible to ignore the unavoidable reliance of the economy on caregiving and the necessity of society-wide solutions.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family