In The Girls from Winnetka, five women, who come of age in the Fifties, tell how and why their lives change decade after decade to the present. In the Fifties, as part of a group of high school friends, they are programmed to please, to be perfect, and to be virgins until marriage. The scripts for their lives are written. They will marry the June they graduate from college, have children, and live happily-ever-after on the North Shore of Chicago. Their parents do not urge them to prepare for a profession because they are expected to depend on a man for their identity and support. But the girls have other ideas. While many of their friends gladly follow traditional paths, these women adapt deeply ingrained standards to what is happening around them. They take flight from their predestined lives to lives of self-reliance and independence. And, along with other women of their generation who hold similar visions, they leave a legacy of choices to the next generation of young women. After opening their hearts and revealing their secrets and life stories–which they describe as a powerful and rewarding experience–they encourage readers to journal about exceptional or significant moments in their lives.
Please write about your own experiences, your responses to the “girls” stories or something you’ve read that is relevant to their efforts to combine being a wife, mother, and professional.
I read recently in Geraldine Ferraro’s obituary about her wish to become a lawyer. She was one of only two women in her class of 179 at Fordham Law School. She felt that professors resented her for being there, for “taking a man’s rightful place.” After graduation, she took the bar exam and married two days later. Her husband didn’t want his wife to work, so she helped him out with his business and did some pro bono work. Thirteen years later, she went to work full time as an assistant district attorney.
I also read recently Virginia Postrel’s comments in her Wall Street Journal column remembering the “mommy track.” She recalled Felice Schwartz’s 1989 article in Harvard Business Review suggesting that women, leaving the corporate world to raise children, be given flexibility and part-time positions. Postrel noted that the idea was scoffed at, at the time, but two decides later millions of American women are combining “motherhood not just with jobs but careers.”
For more information on The Girls from Winnetka please visit www.marciachellis.com
– Marcia Chellis