Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey Toward Equity, the latest work from the celebrated economic historian Claudia Goldin, documents women’s advance in the work force—with a focus on college graduates. It’s a must-read for those who care about gender gaps, though some readers will disagree with Goldin’s recommendations for further change.
Most of the book is spent chronicling the 20th-century progress of college-graduate women. This demographic has evolved greatly as social mores and technology have shifted, and as college attendance itself has become far more common. Goldin divides these women into five capital-G “Groups” and describes in detail how they fared in both family and career life.
Group 1, which graduated college in the first two decades of the 20th century, tended to have either a career or a family, but few managed to have both. The women of Group 2, who graduated from about 1920 through 1945, tended to have jobs (not necessarily careers) that they then left to start families. Group 3, with graduation dates through the mid-1960s, started families soon after college but then got jobs after the kids got old enough. Group 4 got their careers established before starting families, while Group 5, those who graduated in the last two decades of the 20th century, have tried to manage careers and families simultaneously.
Robert VerBruggen is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
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