Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers

Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers

Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers

Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers

Synopsis

Along with her daughter, Mason has written a guide for young women who are facing the tough decision of when--and if--to start a family. The result is a roadmap of new choices for women facing the sobering question of how to balance a successful career with family.

Excerpt

“It’s 51 percent!” exclaimed my assistant Judi, thrusting new registration figures before my eyes. “Women are 51 percent of our new graduate student class. This makes history!”

This was the year 2000. I had just become the first woman graduate dean at the University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley confers more doctorates than any other university in the country, and the university’s eleven professional graduate schools cover almost all professions, from law to public health to journalism to business administration. There are nearly 10,000 students in all.

As I greeted this incoming class of 2,500 new graduate students, more than half of whom were women, I realized that this was a moment anticipated by the women of my generation who had struggled to open the gates to highstatus, male-dominated occupations. Achieving graduate degrees, we believed, would lead to professional and economic equality. We hoped that once a critical mass of women entered the “fast track,” the power balance between men and women would inevitably be achieved in boardrooms, courtrooms, and university classrooms.

I was excited and proud when I announced this historic first to the evenly mixed audience of young graduate men and women. But soon my enthusiasm was tempered by a familiar reality check at a faculty senate meeting that same afternoon. Looking around the chamber, I saw only a few female faces. As a longtime faculty member, I was accustomed to this dynamic; at Berkeley, only 23 percent of the tenure-track faculty are women, a number that has been stagnant for about a decade. This is not simply a chronological lag. Last spring, women received 46 percent of the doctorates granted at Berkeley, but this fall only 26 percent of the new faculty hires on campus were women. This hiringgap of nearly two to one has been the norm for four decades.

Women are even less visible in the administrative power structure. At the first meeting of deans I attended that fall of 2000, I stood out as the only . . .

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