By Claire Zillman
May 2, 2017

Yesterday, thousands of people took to the streets to participate in May Day demonstrations for International Workers’ Day, with many marching in support of women’s rights in the workplace in particular. The organizers of this year’s International Women’s Strike wore red during the New York City march in solidarity with workers and women; given the turbulent political climate, some predicted it would be the biggest May Day in recent history.

Today, the release of two new books about women in the workplace continues the conversation about the divergent understandings of the history, challenges, and perceptions of women in the workplace.

Fortune’s exclusive excerpt of Ivanka Trump’s new book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, provides a brief glimpse into how the first daughter and assistant to the president thinks about maintaining a work-life balance. While the book was written before the election, Trump writes about how being in the spotlight led her to embrace portraying herself as a working mother on social media: “I began to wonder whether I had been doing women who work a disservice by not owning the reality that, because I’ve got an infant, I’m in my bathrobe at 7 a.m. and there’s pureed avocado all over me,” Trump writes. While Trump has advocated for expanded paid family leave, equal pay, and child care provisions, her father’s administration has done nothing to advance those causes so far.

In her new book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, also out today, Jill Filipovic looks at the historical reasons for why one might want to “rewrite the rules” for women’s success in the first place, and why, in this world of “unfinished feminism,” women face unprecedented standards of perfection.

“The idealized vision of 1950s womanhood that still permeates our politics ignores the fact that staying home may not actually make mothers happy. Unfortunately, there’s no robust feminist ideal to counter it,” Filipovic writes in an excerpt published in The New York Times. “Instead, we fall back on the language of ‘choice’: that it’s best if women simply get to choose to work or stay home, as if these choices are inherently equal and made without carrying the cultural baggage of sacrificial American motherhood. Or the fact that inhospitable workplaces and economic constraints mean many women never have a real choice in the matter at all.”

According to Filipovic, working outside the home correlates with better mental and physical health and higher reported levels of happiness. “Mothers who work are also good for families: Daughters of working mothers tend to be higher achieving, work themselves, make more money and spend more time with their children than do daughters of women who did not work; men who were raised by working mothers do more household work and help more with childcare than sons of stay-at-home moms,” she writes. “And women’s presence in the workplace is good for women in the aggregate: Men who have stay-at-home wives are more likely than men with working wives to penalize their female co-workers, denying them promotions and viewing them unfavorably.”

But too many women can’t reap those benefits and are being “pushed” out of the workplace by inadequate parental leave and childcare policies. And until politicians like Ivanka’s father rewrite the rules of workplace provisions for working mothers, that’s unlikely to change.



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