This week there has been quite a bit of media swirl around Samantha Ettus’ excellent new book, The Pie Life, which discusses practical strategies for losing the guilt in your daily life and maximizing productivity and happiness.
One of the subjects Samantha tackles is career (and it’s just one of many things she discusses; it’s not the centerpiece of the book by any stretch). Samantha fundamentally believes that women should keep one foot in their careers at all times, or at the very least “keep their networks warm”.
Here’s the thing: she’s not wrong. The vast majority of women we personally know who’ve stepped away from their careers to care for children do not plan to stay at home forever. Most plan to return to the workforce – in some capacity, whether full time or otherwise – at some point in the future. And the reality is that on-ramping is really, really hard.
Think we’re exaggerating? Go read Heather’s personal story (This is Erin writing for a second…I want to point out that Heather went to Georgetown Law, did several years at one of the most prestigious law firms in the country, then worked in-house at a Fortune 100 company. In short, her resume was about as rock-solid as you can get. And she still had a beast of a time getting back into the workforce after spending a few years as a SAHM and took a major hit both in terms of compensation and seniority.).
If Heather’s anecdotal story isn’t compelling enough, here are some recent statistics about on-ramping in the United States.
- 73% percent of women trying to return to the workforce after a voluntary timeout for childcare or other reasons have trouble finding a job.
- Those who do return lose 16% of their earning power and over a quarter report a decrease in their management responsibilities.
- 22% had to step down to a lower job title.
- Although 89% of off-ramped women want to resume their careers, only 40% successfully return to full-time work.
Look, we HATE that this is the case. It’s total garbage. If a woman wants to be at home with her children while they are babies and toddlers, that makes perfect sense and we totally get it and empathize.
HOWEVER, these statistics paint a very ugly picture of the truth of the world we live in. This status quo is not likely to significantly change during our lifetime. When Samantha Ettus advises women to keep one foot in their career, she’s advising women to protect themselves and look at the big picture. Or at the very least, she wants to make sure that if a woman walks away from her career completely, she does it with eyes wide open, fully informed of the risks (this is a subject we’ve also talked about at length).
Erin had the good fortune to sit down with Samantha and three other writers to discuss the controversy, and Samantha doesn’t back down from her statements. Nor should she. (We’ll post the link to the video when it’s available.)
Helping women lose the guilt and live happier, more empowered lives is not lip service to Samantha; it’s not a tag line. It’s clearly her fundamental belief and her deeply held mission. And she believes keeping your options open with regard to your career is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Putting the controversy aside for a moment, that’s what The Pie Life is really all about. Samantha very much wants women to be fulfilled with with their children, community, friends, hobbies, relationship, and to be healthy to boot. And she’s not talking in theoretical platitudes, either. Her book offers actionable, practical advice on how to get it done.
Whether you’re a working parent or an at-home parent, we’d encourage you to hear her out. Pick up a copy on Tuesday and see for yourself whether her message resonates with you or not. We’re betting it will.
Disclosure: We were sent an advance copy of the book. All opinions expressed are our own.