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Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life

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A retired Wall Street Journal editor and mother compares two generations of women—boomers and GenXers—to examine how each navigates the emotional and professional challenges involved in juggling managerial careers and families.

For the first time in American history, a significant number of mothers are heading major corporations, including General Motors, Ulta Beauty, and Best Buy. Over the past several decades, women have made gains throughout executive suites. Yet these “Power Moms” still struggle with balancing their management responsibilities with raising children. Joann S. Lublin draws on the experiences of the nation’s two generations of these successful women to measure how far we’ve come—and how far we still need to go.

Lublin combines her own insights with those of eighty-five executive mothers across industries—including experienced public-company chiefs such as Carol Bartz, the first woman to command Autodesk and Yahoo; Hershey’s Michele Buck, DuPont’s Ellen Kullman, ITT’s Denise Ramos, and WW International’s Mindy Grossman—and twenty-five of their grown daughters. Lublin reveals how trailblazer boomers, many now in their sixties, often endured sweeping disapproval for their demanding management careers, even as their own daughters sometimes rejected their choices. While the second wave of executive mothers—all under forty-five—handle working parenthood with less angst, they still lead stressful lives. 

Power Moms provides lessons and advice to help today’s professional women, their families, and their employers navigate this challenging terrain.  Lublin looks at the trade-offs mothers are too often forced to make between work and family and the root causes, including the dearth of large-scale paid parental leave and other family-friendly policies. While it celebrates the gains women have made, Power Moms makes clear how much more must be done to make being a working mother easier.

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