Managing Lives

Corporate Women and Social Change


Much has been written lately about women in the workplace, the purported differences between female and male psychology, and even the notion of a separate lower-paid, low-pressure "Mommy Track" in corporations. But what have been the actual experiences of women in the business world, pursuing careers formerly filled by men? How have women viewed their personal and professional development? And what do their stories reveal about the possibilities for women managers in the United States in the future?

This book addresses these issues. Making extensive use of interviews, Sue J. M. Freeman interweaves testimony from forty women in management positions who speak candidly about their lives, the challenges of their careers, and their changing conceptions of themselves. The women range in age from their early twenties to their late fifties and come from diverse ethnic and class backgrounds. What they share is a commitment to their career and a desire to reconcile personal and professional goals.

Examining both individual change and corporate adaptation, Freeman argues that the scarcity of women in top executive positions is due not to women's contrary psychological needs or personal shortcomings, but rather to structural obstacles and persistent, subtle discrimination. The policies and practices of most corporate organizations still assume the presence of a full-time wife at home tending to the domestic needs of the male employee.

Freeman gives us an intimate view of the experiences and personal choices of women managers. At the same time, she makes an original contribution to the study of female psychological development, the nature of corporations, and the ramifications of social change.

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