Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home

Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home

From National Book Award finalist Megan K. Stack, a stunning memoir of raising her children abroad with the help of Chinese and Indian women who are also working mothersWhen Megan Stack was living in Beijing, she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have her first child and work from home writing a book. She quickly realized that caring for a baby and kee...

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Title:Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home
Author:Megan K. Stack
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Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home Reviews

  • Lisa Cobb Sabatini

    I won a Bound Galley of Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack from Goodreads.

    Akin to an honest conversation with fellow mothers, Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack is a memoir that enlightens, moves, and, perhaps, hits close to home for many readers. Stack worked from home while other women, mothers themselves, labored in her home as housekeepers and nannies, and the writer explores not only the women's stories and thoughts, but also her own f

    I won a Bound Galley of Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack from Goodreads.

    Akin to an honest conversation with fellow mothers, Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack is a memoir that enlightens, moves, and, perhaps, hits close to home for many readers. Stack worked from home while other women, mothers themselves, labored in her home as housekeepers and nannies, and the writer explores not only the women's stories and thoughts, but also her own feelings about the experience. A study about the paths women choose or feel compelled to take, the roles of mothers and other women in children's lives, and the expectations of societies where families live, Women's Work is an important book for both women and men who want to build a better world for children.

  • Sally Stieglitz

    Megan Stack's Women's Work, is an important read for many reasons. It acknowledges a number of uncomfortable and irreconcilable truths: that childcare and housework are time and energy consuming labor which are not well respected or well compensated; that women's lives are deeply impacted by pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, and childcare, but that these impacts are overlooked and dismissed by all, including the women affected, who are unable to speak up without risking equal footing in the work

    Megan Stack's Women's Work, is an important read for many reasons. It acknowledges a number of uncomfortable and irreconcilable truths: that childcare and housework are time and energy consuming labor which are not well respected or well compensated; that women's lives are deeply impacted by pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, and childcare, but that these impacts are overlooked and dismissed by all, including the women affected, who are unable to speak up without risking equal footing in the workplace; that outsourcing childcare is the only time it becomes acknowledged as having market value, albeit a low value; that the reality is that we are often outsourcing childcare and domestic chores to women who are compelled by economic stressors to delegate the care of their own children elsewhere and lavish affection on their charges. that there is a discomfort in balancing the transactional nature of work for hire with the close familial relationship of domestic workers. Each of these truths merits its own discussion, but gathered together in the framework of Stack's experiences of motherhood, they are a compelling examination of the strictures on all women's lives and how economics and privilege play a key role in those lives.

  • Cindy

    Such a joy to find a book that is written well, enjoyable to read and thought provoking. A book with purpose that divulges the complex world of working moms who hire other women to help watch their children and maintain their households; other working moms. It’s a complicated topic that is strongly written by a talented author who sees this world through her lens as a journalist - a reporter and a writer - with the added filter of her own motherhood. She explores through her memoir the dichotomy

    Such a joy to find a book that is written well, enjoyable to read and thought provoking. A book with purpose that divulges the complex world of working moms who hire other women to help watch their children and maintain their households; other working moms. It’s a complicated topic that is strongly written by a talented author who sees this world through her lens as a journalist - a reporter and a writer - with the added filter of her own motherhood. She explores through her memoir the dichotomy of our (women’s) desire to continue our careers when we become mothers by hiring domestic help who leave their own children behind, to take care of our children and houses, for a fraction of the pay of our own jobs. She explores the fragile relationships we build with our domestic help; the people we think we get to know (that some call family) but she points out we actually don’t know very well at all; how could we with the inherent imbalance of power. The author is direct and intense revealing insightful thoughts yet remaining open to living with this inner conflict; doing what she must to maintain her family and work life while struggling with her conscious and what is best for everyone. She thoroughly exposes herself through her vulnerability and dry humor. I highly recommend you read it.

    Thank you to NetGalley and DoubleDay for providing me an early release of this book in exchange for this honest and fair review. It was such a pleasure to read.

  • Mehrsa

    If she had cut out all the sections about her birth story (memo to authors: I know everyone's birth story is harrowing, but it's so so boring to hear), this book would have been a complete 5 start. Still, her writing is so beautiful and the topic is so rich and important that it still gets 5 stars. I was so riveted by the book and I relate so much to the stories. I had mixed feelings about her and the help throughout the book, which I think is to be expected. I felt like the author was incredibl

    If she had cut out all the sections about her birth story (memo to authors: I know everyone's birth story is harrowing, but it's so so boring to hear), this book would have been a complete 5 start. Still, her writing is so beautiful and the topic is so rich and important that it still gets 5 stars. I was so riveted by the book and I relate so much to the stories. I had mixed feelings about her and the help throughout the book, which I think is to be expected. I felt like the author was incredibly privileged and just as I would start to get annoyed, she would beat you to it by admitting her flaws. Her husband does not not come off very well, but that I guess is also predictable and relevant. Excellent writing and topic. It made me want to read more books like it.

  • Karen Ng

    It wasn't until I had my children that I realized- there's no work- life balance as a mother. Both work and being a mother requires 100% of my focus and time. At the end, mothering won. Being a mother is always the choice for women with kids. We don't have any other options. There are just no alternatives in the US. The 2 weeks before and 4 weeks after maternity leave, the lack of governmental support for baby care, new mom, childcare, or healthcare force us to give up our career in order to rai

    It wasn't until I had my children that I realized- there's no work- life balance as a mother. Both work and being a mother requires 100% of my focus and time. At the end, mothering won. Being a mother is always the choice for women with kids. We don't have any other options. There are just no alternatives in the US. The 2 weeks before and 4 weeks after maternity leave, the lack of governmental support for baby care, new mom, childcare, or healthcare force us to give up our career in order to raise our kids. Being a mother is expected of us, as women, from the society, the world, our own families, our husband. I went per diem after my second child was born, giving up a 7- figure managerial job, my dreams, more degrees, my aspirations and my > 16 years of education.

    I gave up getting more diplomas, not because I'm not smart enough or couldn't afford it... I love challenges and learning. My children and my family just took up all my time. I continued to work per diem for another 20 years, earning much less than my husband due to my mom responsibilities, which eventually reflected in my SS payment at retirement - the true pay gap between men and women.

    This book is a must read for all thinking women. It's thought-provoking and challenges what we had been led to believe about feminism and why there will never be true equality for women anywhere.

    The author is a journalist/ writer, who truthfully shared her most intimate thoughts on motherhood,workload division at home, how being a mother jeoopardized her career, how it changed her marital relationship, how it changed her view about feminism, while also sharing her own private experience with hiring domestic help. I applaud her for her honesty. sheryl Sandberg was lacking in this category.

    Without the faceless and nameless poorer and usually women of color who gave up taking care of their family and children to take care of ours, there will be no leaning in...no lifting up. Every woman, working or not, would be stuck doing free labor since the beginning of time, while men keep moving up, moving on, reinventing themselves, seizing the moment, swiping left, living the YOLO and/ or FIRE life.

  • Karen Adkins

    The subject matter here is compelling: the extent to which middle- and upper-middle-class women, usually, white, depend upon the exploitation of working-class women for their success. And at times her writing and analysis are really on point. But the book is more of a memoir than the title claims; it focuses almost entirely on the author's own experiences employing nannies and housekeepers in China and India. Stack makes considerable effort to explore the position of her employees--she interview

    The subject matter here is compelling: the extent to which middle- and upper-middle-class women, usually, white, depend upon the exploitation of working-class women for their success. And at times her writing and analysis are really on point. But the book is more of a memoir than the title claims; it focuses almost entirely on the author's own experiences employing nannies and housekeepers in China and India. Stack makes considerable effort to explore the position of her employees--she interviews her current nanny and housekeeper as well as her prior ones--but it doesn't seem like enough really to develop her argument about how exploitative the system is. (She raises the typical objections she hears--in developing countries, impoverished women appreciate the low wages and hard work of domestic labor--and has good responses, but because the book is so fully anecdotal, I do not see them persuading a skeptical audience.) In particular, the book feels like it could have used another revision; after she's interviewed her workers (the last 30 pages of the book), she starts reckoning with the ways in which they have coerced choices in their lives. This makes some earlier passages, where she describes one housekeeper joyfully and obsessively planning recipes to delight her husband, ring even more falsely than they had on my first reading. (I read this and immediately thought, is this housekeeper doing this simply out of love of cooking and pleasing, or prudently, because she recognizes that the husband has the ability to fire her?) At one point Stack says, as she puts her experience into context, "I could give you a ton of statistics about women's work" in the developing world, but that she won't, because it's not the point. That just struck me as excuse-making. I've marked a few passages that I will want to use and refer to, but there's very little otherwise that surprised or enlightened me. Which is a shame, because there's a real need for this kind of work in feminism.

  • Anna Trahan

    This book was interesting. Basically the author is a professional writer who must put her career on hold when she has kids. The only way she can resume her work is to hire women to work for her as nannies and housekeepers. Which leads her to write this book about inequities etc.

    I would have found this a more compelling read if the writer hadn’t been so darn snobby herself. She acts like she’s better than all the other SAHMs she meets (which later we see is due to insecurity but tbh a lot of sno

    This book was interesting. Basically the author is a professional writer who must put her career on hold when she has kids. The only way she can resume her work is to hire women to work for her as nannies and housekeepers. Which leads her to write this book about inequities etc.

    I would have found this a more compelling read if the writer hadn’t been so darn snobby herself. She acts like she’s better than all the other SAHMs she meets (which later we see is due to insecurity but tbh a lot of snobbery that she admits to), and is majorly reluctant to even give days off when they had family emergencies, despite thinking of herself as a progressive and caring boss. Like geeze, your Russian novel can wait for two days while the housekeeper deals with life. At the same time, she is an amazing writer and expresses so well how she felt. She is amazingly privileged and I think that she did not always fully recognize that power dynamic in her relationships with staff, even though she says she did.

    However, this book brought up some important questions about women’s work both inside and outside the home.

  • Amanda

    This book was a deeply and profoundly uncomfortable read and not in just the way that I expected it to be. I expected more of sociological or historical take on domestic labor interwoven with the author's experiences negotiating her own domestic help situation. Instead this was mostly a memoir of a privileged woman exploring her own transition into motherhood. There is an extended section on her labor that has nothing much to do with the thesis of the book and lots of time on her own parenting a

    This book was a deeply and profoundly uncomfortable read and not in just the way that I expected it to be. I expected more of sociological or historical take on domestic labor interwoven with the author's experiences negotiating her own domestic help situation. Instead this was mostly a memoir of a privileged woman exploring her own transition into motherhood. There is an extended section on her labor that has nothing much to do with the thesis of the book and lots of time on her own parenting and writing.

    The the tone of privilege is what is going to haunt me from this book. I was constantly ricocheting from being grossed out by her (did she actually just complain about her live-in help approaching her for a desperately needed day off because she hadn't had her coffee yet?! she has two women working more than full time for her family of four and she hires additional weekend help because, you know, who can do Sundays without the help?) and feeling completely implicated by own life choices (sending my baby to daycare means I don't actually have to know the daily struggles of the women looking after them. I don't have to look it in the face to the same degree as she does. I don't have to know where their babies are.). I want to think I'm better than her, but I wouldn't need to half as much if I didn't doubt that I am.

    Right when I was thinking that her lack of self awareness had actually led her to put this book into the world without trying to get the women's voices in it I came to the final section where she tries to report out their stories as though she is a journalist reporting on any other subject. It goes pretty badly and we never really get to hear from the woman themselves and she never fully grapples with why. Why are these woman so ultimately silenced even though she offers to tell their story? It's seems obvious that her power over them is not something that can ever be set aside once established and her act of writing about them continues and deepens that hold. Like Stack, I like to think I can live with my privilege but also acknowledge it, and as she shows over and over again in this book, you never really can. I guess ultimately I'm grateful for the stark reminder.

    Briefly at the end she touches on a large part of the solution - the men. (Why she ignores the actual social/historical/patriarchal structures at work here is beyond me.) Another crazy infuriating part of this book is her relationship with her husband. Either he is the worst and she should have left him because it's 2019 and if your husband doesn't know where the diapers are... ok, you shouldn't have married him to begin with, but now you can leave him. OR he has a very different take on all of this, which seems equally plausible and equally grounds for divorce. Regardless it was weird to read a book that should have been largely a critique of the patriarchy instead be a woman's justification of her own ways of playing into it.

  • Katy

    I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways

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