POWER MOMS: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life

Joann S. Lublin (BSJ70)

In POWER MOMS, Lublin shares her own experiences combining work and motherhood alongside those of 86 executive mothers from the first trailblazing generation—typically in their sixties—and their younger counterparts, who are under forty-five. These businesswomen have worked for sizable U.S. companies across a wide swath of industries, and 17 percent are a current or past chief executive of a public company. Lublin spent a year interviewing high-powered mothers including Carol Bartz, the first woman to command Autodesk and Yahoo, Hershey CEO Michele Buck, WW International CEO Mindy Grossman, former DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. They divulged heartfelt stories about their illustrious lives and revealed how they have handled everything from gender job bias to timing childbirth, heavy business travel, dual-career clashes, childcare, health crises, unequal domestic duties, and the high-tech demands of being “always on.” POWER MOMS is full of deeply personal accounts of triumphs, challenges, guilt, regrets, and joys. Executive mothers also share their coping strategies, offering important lessons and practical advice to women who want to flourish both on and off the job. In addition, the book features frank perspectives from 25 adult daughters of initial generation Power Moms about growing up in their mother’s shadow.

Lublin discovered a profound cultural shift between the two waves of Power Moms. The first generation bravely paved the path for the second as they radically reshaped the U.S. business landscape. But they often were lone rangers – without female role models, involved husbands, or supportive employers. Thanks to greater societal acceptance and other factors, second-wave mothers pursue ambitious career goals that were uncommon only a few decades ago. They also manage conflicts between work and life with far more aplomb than the previous generation, such as by embracing work-life sway over the elusive work-life balance. But, like their forebears, GenXers still lead stressful lives filled with working mother guilt—a strong sign of how far American society still must go.

Lublin explores how companies can make work more workable for parents. She describes several major U.S. corporations whose innovative approaches propel their success and the careers of staffers with families. She also outlines smart steps that employers should take to better support working parents—a critical need in post-pandemic America.