Philip Whiteley's Blog

August 3, 2012

Better than a new equality law

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 2:26 pm

Book Review – Jennifer Garrett’s Rocking your Role is aimed at the high-achieving woman; but as so many of us are now in dual-income households, her guidance is valuable for many men, also. Where her book marks itself out as being particularly timely and helpful is in showing how real life is lived in relationships. The concept of entitlement, and the idea of quotas, can only at best play supporting roles in the quest for a more even balance between men and women in the economy and in society. Bigger changes come from transformed attitudes, aspirations and practical domestic arrangements.

This was underlined in what was, for me, the most startling fact to emerge from the book. On page 38 she notes, almost in passing, that nearly all the women she interviewed saw being a main earner as a temporary state of affairs. Given that her interviewees included high-achieving executives, I found this extraordinary. Nothing better illustrates the extent to which issues around equality are deep-seated and psychodynamic in character, with discrimination but one facet. Jenny follows up her observation with the excellent question:

‘How is thinking of being a main earner as temporary helping?’

There are plenty of practical exercises, including one on attitudes to money – precious advice for all dual-income households! There is a strong emphasis on keeping a diary/journal, not so much as a historic record but as an expression of feeling and spur to action.

Her book is empowering in the fullest sense of the word: encouraging women to acknowledge the status and power that earning well affords; not feel guilty about it, and not shirk from the responsibility that comes with it. Above all, she reminds her readers to make decisions with confidence. She quotes the wonderful Marianne Williamson poem about our deepest fear being not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure, including my favourite line: ‘There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.’

In the context of the career women who take pride in her work achievements, this means shining her light for her husband/partner; children and friends and other relatives. I have written before about the limitations of discussing work-life balance as though all work were slavery and something to be minimized. Work can offer achievement and satisfaction as well as duty and routine. Children want quality time with their parents; but they want to feel proud of their parents and their career achievements. There is thus much sound practical advice for career men with families also.

Jenny’s insightful work is clearly founded on a deep understanding of the dynamics of relationships and careers, and on the ways in which people develop and learn, as well as on her interviews with women specifically for this book. I wish Rocking your Role well; a book like this, should it become a top seller, will do more to transform the lives of women, and those of their partners and families, than any number of Government commissions.

You can buy the book on Amazon, click here.

Jenny’s website is here.

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