The Third Career: Revisiting the Home vs. Work Choice in Middle Age

By Milica Z. Bookman | Go to book overview

Preface

Throughout my academic career, each book I wrote followed directly from the previous one in a logical sequence. Indeed, research on Third World economic development in graduate school led to an analysis of regional economic competition, which led to the exploration of regional secession, which in turn led to a study of the economic elements of nationalism, and finally to nationalistic demographic engineering. Yet, a book on women, especially privileged, middle-aged women in Western societies, had nothing whatsoever to do with my formal training nor the direction of my academic interests over the past two decades.

The idea for this book came from a source that was thus far new to me: personal experience. Due to circumstances in my personal life, two activities in the early 1990s brought me into consistent and sustained contact with women who were middle-aged, upper-income, and outside the labor force. The first of these activities was involvement in parents' groups at a private school in Miami. When my daughter enrolled in middle school, I began participating in numerous school activities in order to learn about the environment in which she would be spending her teenaged years. Over time and after countless hours working side by side with numerous volunteers, I learned that so many unemployed mothers had above-average stamina, untapped creativity, and boundless energy. Some also had a very strong desire to "do something new". I learned that some women, despite their privilege and their material comfort, had outgrown their past choices and were increasingly feeling confined by the current boundaries of their lives.

The second activity that offered me a glimpse of the lives of unemployed, middle-aged women was a part-time catering service that my friend and I established. Our excursion into the business world in the form of a dessert company was motivated primarily by a desire to give concrete vent to a hobby that we shared, namely, baking (we both had other "real" full-time jobs). As word got around of our endeavors, a relatively uniform response flowed from many of the middle-aged women with whom I had contact. My unemployed female friends, my children's schoolmates' mothers, and female dessert clients all wanted a part of the action. They wanted in! Women began asking me if there was anything they could do in our company. They sought to partake at any

-xi-

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The Third Career: Revisiting the Home vs. Work Choice in Middle Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Part I REALITIES xix
  • Chapter 1: The Profile of Middle-Aged Women with Choices 1
  • Chapter 2: Evolving Expectations of Women with Choices 17
  • Part II INCENTIVES 43
  • Chapter 3 the Transformation of Aspirations 45
  • Notes 60
  • Chapter 4: The Redefinition of Leisure 63
  • Chapter 5: The Reevaluation of Volunteer Work 79
  • Part III CONDITIONS 89
  • Chapter 7: The Accommodating Work Environment 101
  • Part IV CAPACITIES 119
  • Chapter 8: Advantages to Be Harnessed 121
  • Chapter 9: Obstacles to Be Overcome 137
  • Part V BENEFITS 155
  • Chapter 10 Social Benefits: the Economic Contribution of Women with Choices 157
  • Notes 177
  • Chapter 11: Individual Benefits 179
  • Appendix I Method 189
  • Notes 192
  • Appendix II Empirical Overview: Women with Choices in America and in the Sample 193
  • Notes 197
  • Appendix III The Survey 199
  • Selected Bibliography 211
  • Index 215
  • About the Author 219
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