In this captivating and radical look at “work-life balance,” Lara Bazelon reframes our understanding of working women—and shows how prioritizing your career benefits mothers, kids, and society at large.
In this singular cultural moment, mothers have unparalleled opportunities to succeed at work while continuing to face the same societal impediments that held back our mothers and grandmothers. We still encounter entrenched gender bias in the workplace and are expected to shoulder the lion’s share of labor and burdens at home while being made to feel as if we’re never doing enough. All the while we’re told that the perfect work-life balance is possible, if only we try hard enough to achieve it.
It’s time to change the conversation—about work, life, and “balance.” Work and life are inextricably, intimately intertwined. We need to celebrate what we do give our children—even and especially in moments of imbalance—rather than apologizing for what we don’t. In this way, we can model for our children how we use our talents to help others and raise awareness about the issues closest to our hearts. We can embrace the personal fulfillment and financial independence that pursuing meaningful work can bring as a way of showing our children how to live happy, purpose-driven lives. Bazelon argues not only that we can but that we should. Being ambitious at work and being a good mother to our children are not at odds—these qualities mutually reinforce each other.
Backed up by research and filled with personal stories from Bazelon’s life, as well as that of her mother and the many other women she interviewed across the cultural and financial spectrum, Ambitious Like a Mother is an anthem, a beacon for all to recognize and celebrate the pioneering women who reject the false idols of the Selfless Mother and Work-Life Balance, and a call to embrace your own ambitions and model your multiplicities for your children.
About the Author
Lara Bazleon is a writer, teacher, and advocate for racial and social justice. She is law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she directs the Criminal & Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinics and holds the Barnett Chair in Trial Advocacy. Before that, she worked as a deputy federal public defender and the director of a Los Angeles-based innocence project. Along the way, she married, had two children, got divorced, and worked to create a different kind of family. Bazelon’s writing seeks to break down the barriers between the various fields in which she works and invites her readers to open their minds to unexpected—even unlikely—ways of thinking about problems that may not be so intractable after all.
“Make room on the shelf for Lara Bazelon… Bazelon is reassuring, self-aware and direct.”—New York Times Book Review
“A fiery defense of the centrality and importance of women working”—The New Republic
“A convincing argument that professional achievement both allows women to have greater freedom and acts as a valuable lessons that demonstrates to “children that by pursuing our dreams and ambitions, we are strong, independent, and eminently capable.” This is sure to make working mothers feel seen and celebrated.”—Publishers Weekly
“Captivating and radical…reframes our understanding of working women—and shows how prioritizing your career benefits mothers, kids, and society at large.”—Next Big Idea Club
"Ambitious Like a Mother is an anthem for mothers everywhere: dream big, for your children and for yourself. Bazelon's bold thesis--that ambitious mothers should embrace imbalance and empowerment--is backed up by stories that will make you laugh, cry, and raise both fists in the air." —Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex
"This is a fascinating and provocative book that will resonate and spark debate. A must-read." —Emily Oster, author of Crib Sheet
"In her bold new book, Lara Bazelon argues that, for mothers with careers, work-life balance is both a myth and a trap. It is yet another impossible standard to which women are held, and to which they hold themselves—every inevitable failure to achieve equipoise is a hard shove down the "shame spiral." But it doesn't have to be this way. Bazelon's book is a call to action. She invites readers to scrap societally imposed expectations and to consider a provocative question: What if embracing professional ambition, and the imbalance that comes with it, actually makes women good mothers?"—Author of Sisters In Hate
"This smart, affirming, and engaging book should be at the top of every ambitious woman's reading list. Mothers who want more--when it comes to both their careers, their relationships, and their children--will find themselves seen, heard, and championed. The women in Bazelon's book feel like a group of friends you never knew you had, pointing the way to a larger community with the power to change the way you think about your own power and potential.” —Laura Niider, co-director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions
"Lara Bazelon has written a must-read call to action for women. By persuasively arguing that maternal ambition can benefit our children, she empowers working women to reject the false construct of 'mom guilt' and instead embrace our passions."—Elise Jordan, MSNBC political analyst and Morning Joe panelist
"I saw myself in many of these women. Bazelon makes a strong case for why we working moms should be proud of our professional accomplishments and urges us to stop feeling guilty about our refusal to let motherhood define who we are as women."—Reyna Grande, author of A Dream Called Home
“Motherhood and ambition have previously been treated at odds with each other, but Lara Bazelon shatters that narrative and offers a path that empowers mothers to own their ambition and have the career and the family lives they want, on their terms.”—Hitha Palepu, author of We’re Speaking