In This Review

Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey Toward Equity
Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey Toward Equity
By Claudia Goldin
Princeton University Press, 2021, 344 pp

In this deeply researched, engagingly written, and surprisingly personal book, Goldin summarizes the history and current state of gender disparities in employment and pay, both in general and specifically for college-educated women. For much of the twentieth century, the pay gap between women and men reflected discrimination, the consequences of marriage, differences in educational attainment, and occupational choices. Today, by contrast, those obstacles to gender parity have been reduced, and the pay gap reflects other causes, including how childbirth and child rearing interrupt female labor-force participation. More important, it reflects how women tend to choose employers and career paths that allow for flexibility and do not require overtime hours and erratic work schedules. This, in turn, allows their spouses to pursue better-compensated positions, further accentuating the gap in “couple equity.” Addressing this problem will require firms to make flexible and part-time work more productive and better remunerated and governments to provide more generous childcare. More fundamentally, redressing the pay gap will require revisiting the social norm that women are primarily responsible for child rearing.