This Mother’s Day, we take a look at the lives of working mothers. Why do high powered women quit their careers and head home? And how do they navigate the obstacles of rejoining the workforce after decades of being away?

Sociologists Pamela Stone and Meg Lovejoy share stories of working mothers—doctors, lawyers, bankers, scientists, and other professions—who opted to leave their careers and become full time, stay-at-home parents in Opting Out: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home.

And over a decade later, they revisit the same women as they relaunch their careers in Opting Back In: What Really Happens When Mothers Go Back to Work.

Opting Out

In these candid, in-depth interviews, Pamela Stone explores how women’s efforts to construct new lives and new identities unfold once they are home; where their aspirations and plans for the future lie; and shows how—contrary to many media perceptions—that these high-flying women are not opting out but are instead being pushed out of the workplace.

Opting Back In

A decade later, Stone and Lovejoy interview the same women to see how their lives have unfolded. The women reveal how they’ve become ‘supermoms’, discuss the financial reasons for returning to work, and the desire to re-engage as a professional. But the years-long absence from the workforce takes its toll as these highly-trained professionals find employment as contingent workers or land jobs that are disproportionately in the heavily female non-profit sector.

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