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The Price of Motherhood



Awards: L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist

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About The Author

Ann Crittenden

Ann Critten is the author of Killing the Sacred Cows: Bold Ideas for a New Economy. A former reporter for The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize nominee, she has also been a financial writer for Newsweek, a visiting lecturer at M.I.T. and Yale, and an economics commentator... More

Awards

L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist

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Reading Group Gold

About this Guide
The following author biography and list of questions about The Price of Motherhood are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach The Price of Motherhood.

About the Book
In the pathbreaking tradition of Backlash and The Second Shift, this provocative book shows how mothers are systematically disadvantaged and made dependent by a society that exploits those who perform its most critical work. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and research in economics, history, child development, and law, Ann Crittenden proves definitively that although women have been liberated, mothers have not.

Bold, galvanizing, and full of innovative solutions, The Price of Motherhood was listed by the Chicago Tribune as one of the Top Ten Feminist Literary Works since the publication of Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique. This "bracing call to arms" (Elle) offers a much-needed accounting of the price that mothers pay for performing the most important job in the world.

About the Author
Ann Crittenden is the author of Killing the Sacred Cows: Bold Ideas for a New Economy. A former reporter for The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize nominee, she has also been a financial writer for Newsweek, a visiting lecturer at M.I.T. and Yale, and an economics commentator on CBS News. Her articles have appeared in Fortune, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, McCalls, and Working Woman, among others. She lives with her husband and son in Washington, D.C.

1. Ann Crittenden states in her first footnote that she defines “mother” as any caregiver, male or female. How does that detail effect her portrayal of parenting issues throughout the book? What motivates society to assume that women are better candidates for motherhood than men?

2. For female readers: If you and your husband earned exactly the same amount, but neither of you were allowed to work part-time, would you feel comfortable becoming the wage-earner while your husband stayed home with the kids?

3. How much more would you be willing to pay in taxes if it meant that the U.S. would implement the Swedish plan, which grants mothers a full year of maternity leave with government subsidies equal to 75% of their salaries, and the French system of top-notch government-sponsored day care for all?

4. Compare your mother's parenting situation to yours. While things have improved for working women in the past 30 years, how do you think modern mothers and children fared? Are single parents and their children better or worse off than 30 years ago?

5. For married readers with children: If your spouse weren’t in your life, how would you make up for his or her contribution toward raising your children? What safety nets, if any, would be available to you immediately?

6. Consider the story of Tony Williams, the foster child who was assumed to be retarded but, thanks to a chance adoption by loving parents, proved to be highly intelligent and even became mayor of Washington, D.C.. What do you think the outlook is for today’s Tony Williamses? Is the well of “irrational” mother love in danger of running dry?

7. What do you consider to be the greatest hurdle in the road to equal rights and equal compensation for mothers?

8. Almost twice as many male CEOs as female CEOs have children. Do you believe that corporate America can change to accommodate working mothers? Are 80-hour work weeks really necessary for profit making, or are they the just a byproduct of irrational business philosophies?

9. Do you think that the number of children a father has, across multiple marriages, should be taken into consideration when determining child support amounts?

10. Did any of Ann Crittenden’s statistics contradict your assumptions about motherhood? How did The Price of Motherhood affect your own decision-making and perspectives on parenting?

11. What has the price of motherhood been for you? Which of the books case studies resonated particularly strongly with you?

12. With waning support from the National Organization for Women, and no prospect of unionization, how can America’s mothers create an audible voice for change?

13. Evaluate Ann Crittenden’s proposals for change. Which ones would be most relevant to your situation? Which ones do you think are most likely to become enacted within the next five years?

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