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.

  • Samantha

    I read about this book and ordered it right away. it's about how middle class women are able to have careers by hiring lower class women to take on their household tasks. stack happened to be abroad in china and india when she had her children and hired household help, but it's applicable to what happens domestically as well, because many housekeepers and nannies here are immigrants.

    I was taken aback at first by the poetic writing, more so than I expected in a nonfiction book (the work stack ou

    I read about this book and ordered it right away. it's about how middle class women are able to have careers by hiring lower class women to take on their household tasks. stack happened to be abroad in china and india when she had her children and hired household help, but it's applicable to what happens domestically as well, because many housekeepers and nannies here are immigrants.

    I was taken aback at first by the poetic writing, more so than I expected in a nonfiction book (the work stack outsourced the cooking, cleaning, and childcare in order to do was writing a novel - and then this book). what I love about the author is she is unflinchingly honest. she says at one point that if she could only save her husband or the woman who did her housework and childcare from drowning, she would have let her husband drown.

    I don't think she uses any statistics until the end of the book - she gives the narrative of her relationships with three women she hires as household help. it's very the personal is political. she points out that it's a relationship filled with guilt - these women are away from their children to take care of hers. it's also very messy. she gives up privacy. her home is a job site. the things she tries to do to make things better sometimes seem to make things worse. it's hard to see the boundaries of employer/employee in this emotional relationship. it's hard to navigate the differences in privilege.

    it's just very well written, very open, very well done. and although she herself doesn't do it in her own life, she bluntly writes about the heart of the problem and the solution to the problem:

    "all those well-meaning men who say progressive things in public and then retreat into private to coast blissfully on the disproportionate toil of women."

    "in the end, the answer is the men. they have to do the work. they have to do the damn work!...it's a daily and repetitive and eternal truth, because if we press this point we can blow our households to pieces, we can take our families apart, we can spoil our great love affairs. this demand is enough to destroy almost everything we hold dear. so we shut up and do the work."

    "cooking and cleaning and childcare are everything. they are the ultimate truth. they underpin and enable everything we do. the perpetual allocation of this most crucial and inevitable work along gender lines sets up women for failure and men for success. it saps the energy and burdens the brains of half the population...how do you manage to be out in the world, and if you are here, who is there?"

    I mean, there it is, laid out plainly. we know women continue to do more housework and childcare. we know that even when male partners do these chores, it is usually women who do the project management of the household - who remember who needs to be where when and with what, who plan and prepare, who delegate and explain the work. so in order to work outside the home, women must either take on this second shift, as arlie hochschild puts it, themselves or outsource it to poorer women, at great cost to those women's children.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Scribe Publications

    Women’s Work

    Women’s Work

    Women’s Work

    Women’s Work

    Women’s Work

    Women’s Work

    Women’s Work

    Every Man in This Village Is a Liar

    Women’s Work

    Los Angeles Times

  • Amye

    I have really complicated feelings about this book. The author is unflinchingly honest in her characterization of herself, her husband, and the women they employ as domestic workers. She pulls no punches. She also isn't afraid to push back against problematic narratives that employers of domestic workers frequently use ("They're like a member of the family!") or the false women's lib promise that (mostly white) working mothers can "have it all" just by hiring another woman (often a mother of col

    I have really complicated feelings about this book. The author is unflinchingly honest in her characterization of herself, her husband, and the women they employ as domestic workers. She pulls no punches. She also isn't afraid to push back against problematic narratives that employers of domestic workers frequently use ("They're like a member of the family!") or the false women's lib promise that (mostly white) working mothers can "have it all" just by hiring another woman (often a mother of color with less resources) to handle the domestic sphere.

    Still, as I read I kept wondering when/if Stack would discuss the power dynamic that comes with her writing about these women she employed. I kept wondering, could Mary have really said no to being interviewed for this book while she was still receiving a paycheck from the family as their nanny? I wanted her to explore the fine line she had to walk between telling their story and selling them out.

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