Off-Ramps and On-Ramps

Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success

by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce

THROUGHOUT THE PAST YEAR, a noisy debate has erupted in the media over the meaning of what Lisa Belkin of the New York Times has called the “opt-out revolution.” Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Time, and Fast Company all point to a disturbing trend—large numbers of highly qualified women dropping out of mainstream careers. These articles also speculate on what might be behind this new brain drain. Are the complex demands of modern child rearing the nub of the problem? Or should one blame the trend on a failure of female ambition?

The facts and figures in these articles are eye-catching: a survey of the ...

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