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The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life (Hardcover)
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"These are the 'know your value' conversations that we need to have. These women--their challenges, choices, and successes--are all of us." --Mika Brzezinski
Over the last sixty years, women's lives have transformed radically from generation to generation. Without a template to follow--a way to peek into the future to catch a glimpse of what leaving this job or marrying that person might mean to us decades from now--women make important decisions blindly, groping for a way forward, winging it, and hoping it all works out.
As they faced unexpectedly fraught decisions about their own lives, journalists Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace found themselves wondering about the women they'd graduated alongside. What happened to these women who seemed set to reap the rewards of second-wave feminism, on the brink of taking over the world? Where did their ambition lead them?
So they tracked down their classmates and, over several hundred hours of interviews, gathered and mapped data about real women's lives that has been missing from our conversations about women and the workplace. Whether you're deciding if you should pass up a promotion in favor of more flex time, planning when to get pregnant, or wondering what the ramifications are of being the only person in your house who ever unloads the dishwasher, The Ambition Decisions is a guide to the changes that may seem arbitrary but are life defining, by women who've been there.
Organized by theme, each chapter draws on real women's stories of facing down crisis, transition, and decision-making to illustrate broader trends Schank and Wallace observed. Each chapter wraps up with a useful bulleted list of questions to consider and tips to integrate that will guide women of all ages along the way to finding purpose and passion in work and life.
About the Author
Hana Schank is a public interest technology fellow at New America, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the Washington Post. This is her second book.
Elizabeth Wallace worked for print magazines including Vogue, Nylon, Seventeen, Us Weekly, and Lucky, and is now a freelance editor and writer. She contributes regularly to Domino and Architectural Digest.
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“The goal of The Ambition Decisions is to ‘fill in [the] missing knowledge’ for women trying to navigate work and life options, in part because the choices for women ‘often look radically different from the way those very same decisions played out only a generation earlier.’ . . . If anyone is feeling adrift in midlife, this may be the most useful advice.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Those looking for some solidarity reading or ideas about how other professional women mesh work, family and the decisions related to them can find it here.”
“There's not much historical precedent for the continual societal change around women and work. So journalists Schank and Wallace interviewed their former classmates to find out how a generation of women are grappling with questions of ambition, work, and balance.”
“Get inspired . . . Curious about where their college friends ended up, Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace, authors of The Ambition Decisions, called and asked. What they found: Ambitions fluctuate, so don't throw in the towel if you haven't realized all your dreams by 40.”
“Insightful and clarifying in a way that traditional career-focused books for women rarely are.”
“A big-picture read that explores the decisions women make over the arcs of their careers. Read it to know what to expect, or to feel heard.”
“The Ambition Decisions is willing to confront the possibility that perhaps the shape and sum of female ambition offers a better road map for all human beings, men as well as women. The lively and engaging stories that emerge from the authors’ interviews add up to a larger point. Why should we all not be able to choose lives that allow for ambition of different kinds at different times?”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of Unfinished Business
“Every woman who feels paralyzed by her life decisions should read this honest, insightful, and surprising book that explores the challenges of ‘working while female’—and provides helpful advice on how to craft the life you want.”
—Jancee Dunn, author of How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
“Schank and Wallace take readers on a heartfelt journey to discover whether and how it’s possible for women to meaningfully combine work and life without losing our sanity, our health, or our souls. The Ambition Decisions reassures us we’re not alone in our struggle, offers practical guideposts to forge our own paths, and reminds us that defining and redefining success and ambition on our own terms as we grow and change will light the way forward.”
—Brigid Schulte, New York Times bestselling author of Overwhelmed
“Hana and Elizabeth illuminate a truth I wish more ambitious women trying to juggle it all understood: You’re not alone and you’re not going crazy. You just live in a world that hasn’t evolved.”
—Tiffany Dufu, author of Drop the Ball
“A fascinating look at how ambition is not easily contained or defined. Schank and Wallace examine broad questions, such as the relationship between passion and work, alongside practical questions . . . Readers of all generations will learn from the authors’ road map through life’s transitions.”