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Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,828 ratings  ·  382 reviews
A powerful, persuasive, thought-provoking vision for how to finish the long struggle for equality between men and women, work and family

When Anne-Marie Slaughter accepted her dream job as the first female director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department in 2009, she was confident she could juggle the demands of her position in Washington, D.C., with the responsibil
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Random House Canada (first published September 1st 2015)
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Pamela Marshall This book asks and answers some pretty mature questions about life, the universe and everything. There's nothing in the book that would preclude teens…moreThis book asks and answers some pretty mature questions about life, the universe and everything. There's nothing in the book that would preclude teens from reading it (i.e. sexual or violent situations) but many teens might find the book boring, or at the very least, the teen doesn't have the life experience to relate to the book. That being said, if my teen wanted to read the book, I'd buy it for her.(less)

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Jessica Woodbury
The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because I wish it would've played around a bit with the typical self-help book style. It sticks to the formula. BUT THAT SAID, this is the single best thing I have ever read/heard/imagined when it comes to work/life balance. It should immediately eclipse all other books on the subject. Everyone should read it. Male or female, kids or not. It has so much to say about what we need to change in our culture to help people lead more fulfilling lives ...more
Nov 22, 2015 rated it liked it
When I told a friend I was reading this book, she said "That's the kind of book where I just read the magazine article about it instead." And I think Slaughter would have been better served if she had written a series of high profile articles instead of a book as it felt like she was trying to boil an ocean by covering so many different aspects of the challenges in work/life balance (or as she prefers to call it "work/life fit").

I think she makes excellent arguments on how we need to value the
Beth Hatch
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Beth by: Lara Oliver
The BEST work-life balance book you will ever read! Everyone needs to read this! I've read many books on this topic, as well as books geared toward working women: Lean In and I'd Rather Be In Charge. As much as I agree with women needing to be more assertive in the workplace, to advance their careers and step up to the table regardless of competing obligations, I still felt that these books did not address the realities and complexities of having a family and competing priorities for ALL PEOPLE. ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: women-s-issues
I was surprised to see the average rating of 3.95 for this book. Clearly I must have missed something that other readers picked up on. For me this was a disappointing read.

1. I could not sympathize with Anne-Marie Slaughter's big epiphany moment. She left a job as Dean of an academic department at Princeton for a job in Washington, working for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She and her husband decided not to uproot their two preteen boys and so she commuted on a weekly basis. And then - o,
Lynne Spreen
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read a nonfiction book, I’m looking for new information or a new way of looking at the old. In Unfinished Business, Anne-Marie Slaughter delivers both.

I discovered this book through an interview Slaughter did with More Magazine. “My father was a lawyer," she says. "I’m a lawyer. Women wanted to have financial independence, so we took on our fathers’ jobs. In the meantime, we devalued what our mothers did. But without our mothers (being caregivers), our fathers never would have been able
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family is a well-crafted, thought-provoking book that everyone should read. Men, women, parents, aspiring parents, managers of parents, colleagues of parents, policy-makers, and people with living parents. And everyone else too.

Anne-Marie Slaughter does an amazing job of unpacking the complexities of caregiving, gender identity, workplace expectations, and cultural attitudes toward working parents. As a society we under-value caregiv
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought there was so much great advice in here. I am a working woman with children so I could relate with almost everything she said in here. I think this is a must-read for both men and women, but I fear that only women will read it--which was one of her points--only women focus on work/life balance--at least publicly. She answers some of the very valid criticism of her Atlantic article--that she only focuses on privileged white women in the book. She includes more stories and more data. I re ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Modern America faces a labor crisis that is both practical and existential. Even as new kinds of work are rapidly being created, we can’t adequately educate and fully employ the workforce we already have. Worse, we’ve created a system where elites have almost exclusive access to intellectually challenging and meaningful work opportunities, with everyone else scrambling to produce enough income to make it through the month. To get out of this mess, we need smart people to craft new social and pol ...more
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I appreciated this book on women, work, and family, finding it more nuanced and realistic than Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Slaughter opens her book with a personal anecdote. In 2010, she accepted a prestigious opportunity to work for Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C. This job meant that she would be a commuting parent, living in Washington during the week and spending the weekends at home with her family based in Princeton. Slaughter accepted the job with the ostensible support
Claudia Putnam
My thoughts exactly. Nothing in here that's new, esp in the wake of the famous Atlantic article, but the argument is both broadened and more refined. Slaughter (what on earth is the feminist argument for keeping that name?) is not the most deft writer, but her skills are solid. The structure of the book wanders from the personal to the social to the economic, and it tends to repeat. There are a lot of good ideas. What if parental leave were something everyone had to opt out of, instead of choosi ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
The book tries to do too much. It is an analysis of the current situation for working mothers, a self-help book for younger graduates, and a political manifesto. As many other reviewers have noted, the content would have been clearer as a series of essays.

(view spoiler)
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was such a great read and while it may sound way idealistic, I believe we owe this way of thinking and behaving to the good of humanity. I loved slater's viral article and this book focuses and calls for better participation, of everybody : men, women, businesses, governments and policy to promote healthier attitudes towards work and home to give everyone a better opportunity to live more fulfilling lives. Highly recommend if you think seriously about unpaid care, the care economy in genera ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A welcome addition to the pantheon of "can women have it all, no actually, can they?" books, Slaughter's is one of the few to consider that a) not all women are in as privileged a position as the author and that b) perhaps the answer isn't that women just aren't trying hard enough. Instead she advocates for a broader rethinking of how we treat work and its place in our lives - arguing that we must value caregiving as much as we say we do, and in so doing will transform the work/life balance for ...more
Chelsea Lawson
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anne-Marie Slaughter was a director of foreign policy in the Obama administration and left in order to take a more flexible job and care for her kids. That choice, and the countless conversations she had in the years after leaving and writing on the subject of “work/life fit”, as she calls it, left her thoughtful.

In this book, she investigates the "unfinished business" of the women's movement that began with suffrage in the early 1900s like a true policy analyst (but with a more human tone and e
Graeme Roberts
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this book because I want to be able to support my adult children with ideas and information as they meet the challenges of coordinating caring and working in their families.

The book vacillates between being an exhaustive analysis of a complex topic and a self-help guide. The analytical component could easily have evolved into a think tank policy document. The self-help would have been more useful as a magazine article or short e-book. Anne-Marie Slaughter is an obviously brilliant woman,
Lacey Louwagie
Read Harder Challenge Item: Read a book about feminism or with feminist themes

This book tackles the evergreen topic of interest in feminist circles of "balancing work and family." While it treads a lot of familiar ground -- the cost to a woman's career when she prioritizes care-giving, envy of the Scandinavian countries that have this all figured out, etc. -- I liked that it framed the dilemma as a problem of "undervaluing care," and that it called on both women and men to change these cultural
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So good! An intelligent and well-balanced discussion on work/life balance. I love how she eschews a one-size-fits-all solution and instead talks about how this could work given a range of circumstances.

I thought the reframing of the question on work/life balance to re-evaluate how much caregiving should be worth is really smart. Slaughter also gives a broad understanding of the term caregiving, applying it equally to caring for a child, an aging parent, a spouse, a friend or whatever other type
Sep 23, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was a slog to get through, even with it only really being 256 pages. The last 71 are all acknowledgements, notes and index which makes the book look longer than it actually is.

I feel the author had a good point that they wanted to make, however after reading the book, this was not the format for it. I felt the book was full of padding and was extremely repetitive. After only the first 76 pages (the first 30% of the book), I was ready to toss the book after reading the words "Half-Truth
Robert Wechsler
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is really two books: a look at the balancing of work and family, as well as care and competition, in the U.S., with ideas on how to improve the situation; and a how-to for young people, mainly educated women, about to how to do a better job of it. Although, unlike many writers, Slaughter does make room, from time to time, for men and for less educated people, she still focuses on her expected readership: educated women. The major way in which she considers the less educated is in considerin ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Anne-Marie Slaughter provides the much-needed, hard-hitting response to Lean In — one that is, notably, grounded in reality. Sheryl Sandberg’s call to women to be ambitious in the office was respectable, but 99% of American women aren’t going to become Silicon Valley billionaires, and “leaning in” doesn’t actually do anything to change the miserably biased, inflexible conditions that the vast majority of working mothers find themselves in. Slaughter is calling for a social overhaul, not a capitu ...more
Yukari Watanabe/渡辺由佳里
A very thoughtful book regarding the gender issue in US. I'd recommend this book to any young people who want to have well-balanced work and family life.

I'm planning on writing a review of this book for Newsweek Japan.

My blog review (Japanese):
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us
4 stars not so much because the book is particularly well-written, but because it made me think about the value of care, about my own attitude in the workplace and about choices in life. This book has inspired many discussions with loved ones who have (young) families.

Easy read, recommended for anyone interested in knowing more about work-life balance.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Maybe this was more groundbreaking when it came out, but I thought a lot of these points were "old hat." That said, the main messages are still very valid and something that demand cultural and policy changes. I don't think it was a book that was as necessary for me to read as, say, every old white man in the country.
Elizabeth Hall
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
In 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as Secretary of State Clinton’s director of policy planning, wrote an article for The Atlantic entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” In the article, she discussed the difficulties she experienced in working a highly demanding job while meeting the needs of her sons; she chose to leave the State Department and return to teaching at Princeton (a far more flexible, though still demanding, job) so that she could be near her sons at a critical point i ...more
Michelle Kuhn
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism
Slaughter provides a thought-provoking challenge to Americans, showing how the next cultural revolution must confront the unsustainable way Americans work; the pace, hours and places we work. She proposes that in order to have more congruity between work and life, companies will need to change their working policies to be more flexible to accommodate both men and women as primary caregivers of children and elderly. She also challenges women to put more faith in men’s ability to perform domestic ...more
3.5 stars. Sensitive to criticism that her widely read 2012 article in the Atlantic was written from a place of privilege due to her race and class, in this book Anne-Marie Slaughter tries to detail what she sees as the key issues facing the broader female workforce that prevent equality from being achieved. The essence of her argument comes down to the "care economy" and need for more flexibility for both women and men. The book serves as an antidote of sorts to "Lean In." Slaughter makes the a ...more
Kelsey Moore
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
In short, Anne-Marine Slaughter seems to be hypocritical. She implores us to value "care" as much as we value "competition", but her perspective is the same old feminist rant about how America sucks because she didn't get to have her cake and eat it too. She still wants women to "have it all" by making society change, and makes some mildly offensive comments about how terrible America treats caregivers (something I have not seen in the way she describes). Yet, the extent of her own valuing of ca ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ann-Marie Slaughter's article in The Atlantic a number of years ago was... big for me, to say the least. I remember where I was when I read it, and I remember reacting to it in ways I wouldn't have expected.
Unfinished Business is the same for me. I will admit I've tried several times to pick it up over the years, and have not been ready to read it for some reason, until now. I'm so happy I did. It's not that the points Slaughter makes in this book are earth-shattering or all that mysterious. Ra
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book and some of the insights that it gave me about my own work, parenting and marriage.
I have a lot of thoughts about this book, so I don’t know where to start. This is a book I will buy and likely mark-up and come back to for reference from time to time.
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Anne-Marie Slaughter is currently the President and CEO of New America, a think tank and civic enterprise with offices in Washington and New York. She is also the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. From 2009–2011 she served as director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hol ...more

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14 likes · 0 comments
“Balance” is a luxury. Equality is a necessity. When we stop talking about work-life balance and start talking about discrimination against care and caregiving, we see the world differently.” 6 likes
“flexibility cannot be the solution to work-life issues as long as it is stigmatized. The question that young people should be asking their employers is not what kinds of family-friendly policies a particular firm has. Instead, they should ask, “How many employees take advantage of these policies? How many men? And how many women and men who have worked flexibly have advanced to top positions in the firm?” 4 likes
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