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Dr. Ellen Chesler: Toward Work-Life Balance - Feminism's Next Wave?

A revolution in cultural norms, the strengthening of workplace rights and major economic changes have advanced women’s rights over the last 50 years and, in turn, economic progress.  Scholar and women’s rights advocate Dr. Ellen Chesler, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, discusses the historical struggle for gender equality and argues for the next wave of feminism to focus on enabling work and family balance.

On coming of age during the feminist movement of the 1960s: “The good news is that there’s been a revolution for women, truly a revolution, in what is expected of us. When I came of age in the late 60’s, just as the second wave of feminism was getting going…basically I was being educated to be somebody’s very thoughtful wife or spouse. We were the first class of women that really thought seriously about working through the lifecycle.”

On the critical progress of women’s rights in the workplace: "When I had my first child in 1978, I could have been fired from my job. I was running a government agency with 65 people in New York, but there was nothing to protect me from being fired. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed and [changed that].”

On advocating for public policies to support paid family leave: “We need desperately to figure out a way in which women can balance the desire to have children earlier on in their careers … [with] more flexibility in the workplace…And public policy has to support us in doing this.”