Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All By Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober Bantam; 311 pages
A book for working mothers explaining why an egalitarian marriage is optimal seems obvious. Each spouse shouldering half the work is already the fantasy of most wives, particularly those with demanding careers. Who would argue with the proposition that a husband should lift a hand to do some housework or help a child with homework? So why preach to the choir when the men who actually need to read it--type-A husbands--are still at the office?
Because the goal remains valid. Meers (a former managing director at Goldman Sachs) and Strober (managing director of a private-equity firm in Silicon Valley) do an admirable job of building a case that a 50-50 marriage helps both partners. "We are two working moms who believe that everyone wins when men are full parents and women have full careers. When both parents pay the bills and care for kids, this life is possible--we know from experience."
In the first third of the book, the authors cite convincing studies that quantify the benefits of two working parents: to children, husbands and wives. (There's even a 2006 study that found that husbands who do more chores at home fare better in the marital bedroom.)
The rest of the book explains how to attain equilibrium. A good marriage is requisite; so is good communication. "Talk about who will do what as soon as you can--and make it a lifelong discussion." There are also husband-training tips. For instance, women should avoid being persnickety about exactly how child care and chores are done so that husbands don't get discouraged. "You have to accept how your husband does things or you end up doing everything yourself."
The message is a little mixed. Chores sound like character-building fun for men but like soul-deadening drudgery for women. Likewise, mothers are allowed to rhapsodize about their jobs, but hard-charging fathers who enjoy working round the clock are just selfish.
A book about achieving an equal balance of marital responsibilities is akin to one that promises speedy weight loss. You quickly discover that there is no magic--just discipline and eating your vegetables. For the couple who wants to split family life even-steven, it takes love, commitment and the ability to swim upstream, societally speaking.
Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y By Bruce Tulgan Jossey-Bass; 182 pages
The Cohort known as Gen Y, born between 1978 and 1990 and now flooding into the workplace, "will be more difficult to recruit, retain, motivate, and manage than any other new generation." Why? Raised by once rebellious boomers attempting to be perfect parents, Gen Yers have been coddled since birth, says the author. But given the right structure and boundaries, he says, including "specific deadlines with measurable benchmarks along the way," Gen Y will be "the most high-performing workforce in history for those who know how to manage them properly."
Undress for Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home By Kate Lister and Tom Harnish Wiley; 262 pages