Introducing Broken Patterns
BROKEN PATTERNS PICKS UP WHERE LEAN IN LEAVES OFF…placing modern professional women, and their mothers and grandmothers, in a remarkable historical context. A must-read for anyone seeking insight into the history and psychology of professional women. Introducing the 2nd Edition, with a new preface and afterword by the author.
Today, women are entering professional careers in unprecedented numbers, and are rising to the highest levels in corporations, academe, media and politics. But new books and studies suggest that the movement toward equality of men and women has stalled–in part because some women are opting for domestic–even subservient– roles. What does this mean for the future?
Broken Patterns tells the stories of 40 professional women who entered male-dominated careers in the 1970s and 80s–comparing their experiences to those of their mothers and grandmothers. It places all three generations in historical context–showing that, in the 19th century and again in the 20th, the more women left the home for paying work in one generation, the greater the societal belief in domesticity for women, in the next.
The women I interviewed for Broken Patterns grew up in the 1950s–a time when the predominant American societal ideology held that women belonged at home. They came of age during the civil rights and feminist movements, a time when economic and technological changes made it possible for them to enter careers once reserved mainly for men. Studies on earlier professional women found that many had emulated their fathers. But for the women I interviewed, the drive to succeed in careers came from what they knew of their mothers’ lives. While they liked and admired their mothers , they did not want to lead lives like their mothers’—as homemakers, secondary to men.
To my surprise, many of their grandmothers had worked outside the home in the early 20th –a time when women were entering college and careers in ever-increasing numbers.
First published in 1995, Broken Patterns traces the paths of the women I interviewed in light of women’s historical quest to express the qualities they deem “feminine”–yet achieve equality with men. Based on generational patterns I discovered, the book lays out a vision of progress–whether historical, generational, personal or creative–that is not linear nor cyclic, but spiral.
In this spiral process, driven by technologic, natural, societal or internal forces, we move forward toward new opportunities. We get just so far, then pull back to reintegrate images, ideas and experiences of the past—building a new basis on which to move forward, once again.
The new edition will be of interest to all generations–including women now entering careers. It includes interviews with present-day college students, a new preface, and an afterword showing how far women have come since Broken Patterns was first published, in 1995.
I hope that revisiting the experiences of women past will provide understanding and encouragement to generations of the future.