Ivanka Trump’s new book, intended to provide advice for women who want to “have it all,” is being criticized for only applying to a small population of women.
Trump wrote “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success” during the election season. It is a compilation of Trump’s own “struggles” as well as a number of misapplied quotes from influential people.
But the book seems to view the world through the eyes of a woman wearing rose-colored sunglasses. The New York Times called the book “a strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes” and “perfect for a generation weaned on Pinterest.” Huffington Post describes it as “a grab-bag of generic work-life advice for upper-middle-class white women who need to’architect’ (a verb that pops up a lot) their lives.”
NPR’s Annalisa Quinn noted a particular passage in which Trump takes a quote from critically acclaimed author Toni Morrison very much out of context:
“Trump’s lack of awareness, plus a habit of skimming from her sources, often results in spectacularly misapplied quotations like one from Toni Morrison’sBelovedabout the brutal psychological scars of slavery. ‘Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another,’ is positioned in cute faux-handwritten capitals (and tagged #itwisewords) before a chapter on ‘working smarter.’ In it, she asks: ‘Are you a slave to your time or the master of it Despite your best intentions, it’s easy to be reactive and get caught up in returning calls, attending meetings, answering e-mails …'”
“Women Who Work” by Ivanka Trump
One of Trump’s “difficulties” during her father’s presidential campaign has drawn particular ire from critics.
“Honestly, I wasn’t treating myself to a massage or making much time for self-care,” she writes.
Trump’s lack of understanding of the work-life balance many women strive to obtain is also evidenced when she explains, “Some of my best photos of the kids were taken by my nanny during the day (I’m sure in ten years I’ll convince myself I took them!)”
Trump does in her book acknowledge the gender pay gap, but she does not note the fact that its impact is worse on women of color or the fact that her life does not appear to have been influenced by unequal wages.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their provider.”
Trump’s admission that she misses some of her children’s crucial moments is a sad realization but is also a problem that many working women may not even be able to afford to have. Largely varying by location, the annual rate for a nanny is, according to payscale.com, between $18,901 and $41,700.
Catalyst pegs a woman’s average annual salary at about $39,621, posing an obvious challenge for a woman who wants to go back to work but cannot afford childcare. Even if a woman is married to a man, Trump’s advice is difficult to swallow: the average salary for a man is $50,383. For a very loosely defined, statistically “average” family, making ends meet while both parents return to work would be a struggle at best and next to impossible at worst.
Women of color, people living in poor areas, single mothers and lesbian parents (since they would be making two women’s salaries) would face even more of a challenge.
Also posing a challenge is the fact that women today are waiting until later in life to start families at which time the pay gap is even more of an issue, Catalyst notes.
“Younger women (20-24 years old) are closer to pay equity and earn 92.3% of men’s earnings compared to older women (55 to 64 years old) who earn just 76.4% of men’s for full-time wage and salary.”
People who were quoted in the book have responded, some more harshly than others.
Reshma Saujani, founder and chief executive of Girls Who Code, tweeted that she wished Trump hadn’t used her story at all.
Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani) May 2, 2017
Trump also quotes British primatologist Jane Goodall: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Goodall responded in a statement to the Washington Post.
“I understand that Ms. Trump has used one of my quotes in her forthcoming book,” she told the publication. “I was not aware of this, and have not spoken with her, but I sincerely hope she will take the full import of my words to heart.”
According to the Post, Goodall also said environmental and wildlife protection efforts “have all been jeopardized by this administration.”
“[Trump] is in a position to do much good or terrible harm,” she said. “I hope that Ms. Trump will stand with us to value and cherish our natural world and protect this planet for future generations.”
Goodall has been outspoken against Trump’s father, particularly for his views on the environment and climate change. Following the election Goodall posted on her website her concerns for the future:
“Will Donald Trump, the President of the United States, be a different person from Donald Trump, the presidential candidate Will Mr. Trump reach out to half the U.S. voters that were not his supporters, in an attempt to unify the countryWe can only hope for the best, hope for a change of heart as he contemplates his tremendous power for helping to save our planet for the future his youngest child is only 10 years old and his equally tremendous power to inflict untold damage.”
New age figure, author and speaker Deepak Chopra was also quoted in Trump’s book as saying, “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
Chopra responded in a statement to CNNMoney:
“Ivanka means well. She is in a tough position and it is obvious she knows what’s right and what’s not. Perhaps she will speak up to her father soon.”
Notably, his statement is much less critical than his words about Trump’s father, CNNMoney reports:
“During the campaign last year, he called President Trump a racist with the ’emotional retardation of a 3-year-old’ and told a Fox News Radio host that he would be afraid for the country if Trump won the election.”
Trump previously came under fire regarding her so-called progressiveness on women’s rights when it was revealed that the first daughter has her label’s clothes made by workers who receive no paid maternity leave. G-III Apparel Group, which has had the rights to design and distribute Trump’s clothing since 2012, does not offer its employees any paid maternity leave. It offers only the minimum time off required by law: twelve weeks ofunpaid leave.
The Ivanka Trump brand, which is Trump’s company, offers eight weeks of paid leave to new mothers, as well as flexible work hours, a company representative reported. And while Trump has no managerial authority at China’s G-III factory, the reported disturbing conditions and poor treatment of its employees should have prompted Trump to work with a different company. Last month the Post reported that a factory audit of the company revealed that employees work 60-hour weeks and make about $62 a week. By Chinese law, workers can only work 36 hours of overtime a month a number exceeded by many G-III employees.
The Post reported:
“The factory’s workers made between 1,879 and 2,088 yuan a month, or roughly $255 to $283, which would be below minimum wage in some parts of China. The average manufacturing employee in urban China made twice as much money as the factory’s workers, or roughly 4,280 yuan a month, according to national data from 2014.
“Fewer than a third of the factory’s workers were offered legally mandated coverage under China’s ‘social insurance’ benefits, including a pension and medical, maternity, unemployment and work-related injury insurance, inspectors found. The factory also did not contribute, as legally required, to a fund designed to help workers afford housing, inspectors said.
“Workers earned five days of leave a year, though a small fraction of experienced employees were eligible for more.”