The Balance Gap
Working Mothers and the Limits of the Law
Sarah Cote Hampson

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Contents and Abstracts
Introduction: In Pursuit of "Balance"
chapter abstract

This chapter provides the theoretical outline of the book, and explains why we should care about how women form their legal consciousness around work/life balance policies in public universities and the U.S. military.

1 Navigating the Rules in Public Universities
chapter abstract

This chapter focuses on the experiences of women faculty in public universities. It explores both the formal and informal rules and norms that women navigated when making decisions about claiming their rights to work/life balance laws and policies within their institutions.

2 Navigating the Rules in the U.S. Military
chapter abstract

This chapter focuses on the experiences of women who are currently serving, or who have served, in the U.S. military. It explores both the formal and informal rules and norms that women navigated when making decisions about claiming their rights to work/life balance laws and policies within their institutions.

3 Looking Out and Speaking Up: Individual Agency and Networks
chapter abstract

This chapter compares the case studies presented in Chapters 1 and 2 and focuses on the instrumental design element of the theoretical framework for the book. It explores how individuals act with agency to form their own legal consciousness around work/life balance policies, and the legal consciousness of those around them, using institutional consciousness networks (ICNs). These networks can function as a way for women to gain legal knowledge, seek emotional and professional support, and exercise resistance to institutional culture.

4 Status Speaks: The Importance of Rank
chapter abstract

This chapter examines more closely and compares the institutional structures of public universities and the U.S. military. It does so specifically by focusing on these institutions through the lens of rank, an institutional structure that controls the institutional cultures of both institutions fairly significantly. This chapter focuses on how rank plays a role in shaping women's legal consciousness formation in both institutions.

5 In the Shadow of the Ideal Worker
chapter abstract

This chapter focuses on the ideological construct of the Ideal Worker. This construct affects the legal consciousness of women in both public universities and the U.S. military by stereotyping mothers in these professions are "nonideal." For women faculty, this stereotype casts them as "not serious" about their careers, while women service members are stereotyped as shirking their duties. The chapter concludes by discussing the ways in which current work/life balance policies may in fact reinforce these stereotypes rather than combating them.

Conclusion: Can Mothers Ever Be Ideal Workers?
chapter abstract

This chapter summarizes the findings of the book, concluding that legal consciousness formation can be observed through instrumental, institutional, and ideological processes. Having revealed in previous chapters the limitations of current public policy aimed at achieving work/life balance, this chapter offers some suggestions for improving the efficacy of these policies. It concludes, however, that significant cultural and institutional discursive shifts must take place in order for public policy to have any meaningful impact on women's lived experiences as working mothers.