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.
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?'
I have written 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.
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.