CREATING A LIFE: Professional Women and the Quest for Children
Release date: 04/01/2002
"[B]etween a third and a half of all high-achieving women in America do not have children" and "the vast majority yearn" for them, says Hewlett, founder of the National Parenting Association. In this study of baby lust, Hewlett portrays the anguished hand-wringing by middle-aged women who were career-obsessed throughout their 20s and 30s, only to wake up single at 40, biological clocks all petered out. Infertility treatment is not a solution, she says; it's expensive, dangerous to women's health and unlikely to produce a pregnancy, much less a live, healthy baby. Moms and potential moms from playwright Wendy Wasserstein to a 46-year-old single woman who traveled to China to adopt illustrate Hewlett's thesis that "some of the most heartfelt struggles of the breakthrough generation have centered on the attempt to snatch a child from the jaws of menopause. A few succeed; most do not." Hewlett attests that "if high-altitude careers inevitably exact a price, it's profoundly unfair that the highest prices... are paid by women." "Self-indulgent" women might try to have a child and a career by hiring a nanny, but for Hewlett, it's more "courageous" for a woman to forgo childbearing if a career is her real goal. Hewlett's advice to young women is strangely retro: get married—you'll be happier and healthier. She counsels them to give "urgent priority" to finding a marriage partner fast, "have your first baby before 35" and look for work at a family-friendly corporation. Though ardently argued, her case is unconvincing. (Apr.)
Forecast:This book is a difficult sell. Career-oriented 20-something women—its target market—will find it as welcome as a panic attack.