Sharing the Work
What My Family and Career Taught Me about Breaking Through (and Holding the Door Open for Others)
Book published by The MIT Press
Myra Strober became a feminist on the Bay Bridge, heading toward San Francisco. It is 1970. She has just been told by the chairman of Berkeley’s economics department that she can never get tenure. Driving home afterward, wondering if she got something out of the freezer for her family’s dinner, she realizes the truth: she is being denied a regular faculty position because she is a mother. Flooded with anger, she also finds her life’s work: to study and fight sexism, in the workplace, in academia, and at home.
Strober’s generous memoir captures the spirit of a revolution lived fully, from her Brooklyn childhood (and her shock at age twelve when she’s banished to the women’s balcony at shul) to her groundbreaking Stanford seminar on women and work. Strober’s interest in women and work began when she saw her mother’s frustration at the limitations of her position as a secretary. Her consciousness of the unfairness of the usual distribution of household chores came when she unsuccessfully asked her husband for help with housework. Later, when a group of conservative white male professors sputtered at the idea of government-subsidized child care, Strober made the case for its economic benefits.
In the 1970s, the term “sexual harassment” had not yet been coined. Occupational segregation, quantifying the value of work in the home, and the cost of discrimination were new ideas. Strober was a pioneer, helping to create a new academic field and founding institutions to establish it. But she wasn’t alone: she benefited from the women’s movement, institutional change, and new federal regulations that banned sex discrimination. She continues the work today and invites us to join her.
Myra Strober is a labor economist. She is Professor (Emerita) at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, and Professor of Economics at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (by courtesy). She is the coauthor of The Road Winds Uphill All the Way: Gender, Work, and Family in the United States and Japan.
“Myra Strober’s Sharing the Work is the memoir of a woman who has learned that ‘having it all’ is only possible by ‘sharing it all,’ from finding a partner who values your work as much as you do, to fighting for family-friendly policies. You will learn that finding allies is crucial, blending families after divorce is possible, and that there is neither a good time nor a bad time to have children. Both women and men will find a friend in these pages.”
“There should be many more books like this ... Bravo.”
—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
“Strober's compelling story is a page-turner, a home run! It should be required reading in business, law, and all of the social sciences.”
—Irma Herrera, playwright and solo performer; former Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates, San Francisco
“What makes Myra Strober’s memoir stand out is her skilled storytelling of the extraordinary challenges she faced as an early and unique female pioneer, overcoming societal and institutional challenges at every turn. In memorable scenes and colorful stories, her writing is sharp, honest, and quick to make us laugh over the societal hypocrisies she encountered. Strober’s trials and triumphs will be a familiar story for women and men who've battled their own traditional workplace challenges and will serve to remind us all of the difficult work still required. I can't wait to share the book with family, friends, and colleagues.”
—Eva Sage-Gavin, Vice Chairman, Skills for America’s Future, Aspen Institute; former Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Gap Inc.
“In this beautifully written book, Myra Strober deftly combines her personal story with the changes in women’s lives during the last part of the twentieth century. It illuminates the struggles of smart girls; feminist awakenings; the travails of dual-career life; the misfit between personal and institutional time tables; the demands of academic life; and the uniquely creative role that women economists, sparked by Strober herself, played in their field—an excellent example of how women have changed the trajectory of scholarship. A wonderful read.”
—Lotte Bailyn, T Wilson Professor of Management Emerita, MIT Sloan; author of Breaking the Mold: Redesigning Work for Productive and Satisfying Lives
“The pioneering feminist economist Myra Strober knows that sharing the work means sharing all of the work, and no one brings this point home with more wit and wisdom. Strober’s beautiful memoir effectively dramatizes the fraught interactions between personal and professional success. We can all learn from her story.”
—Nancy Folbre, Professor of Economics Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; author of The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values
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