Anne-Marie Slaughter Has Unfinished Business

Anne-Marie SlaughterThe author of the viral 2012 Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” has a new book out on Tuesday: Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family.Bloomberg writes that it “may upend Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In as the reigning work-life balance manual,” except that Slaughter and Sandberg take very different approaches to tackling the lack of women in leadership roles. While Sandberg focuses on what women can do to advance their individual careers, Slaughter is more concerned with changing what she calls our “toxic work world,” with its culture of hypercompetitiveness, overwork, and stubborn adherence to traditional gender roles that constrain men and women alike.Early reviews of Unfinished Business commend Slaughter for recognizing that the challenges women face in the modern American workforce are merely symptoms of larger, system-wide issues; or, as she puts it: “Perhaps the problem is not with women, but with work.” Reviewers also praise Slaughter’s willingness to admit her own biases and own her privilege, as evidenced in an excerpt from the book published in TIME.On the other hand, some are less than impressed with Slaughter’s proposed solutions to the challenges she identifies; Elaine Blair at The New York Times describes the book as “strategically vague,” and Irin Carmon at the LA Times finds her policy prescriptions to be “a bit of a letdown.” To be fair, though, her lack of clarity here may simply be a function of the enormity of the problem she’s confronting. Maybe we shouldn’t be so disappointed that Slaughter doesn’t have a five-step plan that will shift an entire culture and system of working.We’ll be reading Unfinished Business over the next few days and posting our own full review to the blog once we’ve had a chance to digest it. In the meantime, if you’ve read some or all of the book, please share your thoughts with us in the comments. We have a feeling we’ll all be talking about this one for a long time.