The Ambition Decisions

The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life, is on-sale now from Viking Penguin.

As my college friend Hana Schank and I faced unexpectedly fraught decisions about our own careers and lives in our early 40s, we found ourselves wondering about the ambitious women we had graduated alongside from Northwestern University in 1993. What happened to those women whose lives were set to reap the rewards of second-generation feminism, on the brink of taking over the world?

We tracked down those classmates, and over several hundred hours of Skype interviews, we gathered and mapped data about real women’s lives that has been missing from our conversations about women and the workplace. The Ambition Decisions is the result of those interviews, a guide to the life changes that seem arbitrary but are life-defining, by women who have been there.

The book came out of The Ambition Interviews, a multimedia project published as a series of essays in The Atlantic in December 2016. Say hey at

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Excerpts & Interviews

Five Things We Learned About Ambition Listicle, Fast Company

When Love What You Do Pushes Women to Quit The Atlantic

Inside Women’s Ambition Decisions Interview with Salon

What Women Want Interview with US News & World Report

So You Want to Be A High Achiever… Essay-listicle by Laura Vanderkam

Opting Out of a Career Doesn’t Make You Less Ambitious Quartz

5 Hard Truths About Doing What You Love While Earning the Money You Need Listicle, Business Insider

On Women’s Goals Interview with Grok Nation

Opt Outer, Flex Lifer, or High Achiever—Which Ambition Path is Right for You? Interview in Working Mother

Ambitious Women: Meet Hana Schank Interview in Parent Map

Reviews & Lists

14 Books That Will Help You Embrace Your Inner #Girl-Boss at Work and In Life Hello Giggles, June 2018

Pacific Standard Picks: The Ambition Decisions (a selection of the best things that the magazine’s staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture)

Seven Books That Won’t Put You to Sleep at the Beach Washington Post On Leadership, June 2018

After A Diploma, Tough Choices The Wall Street Journal, June 2018

Review in Publishers Weekly

The Ambition Decisions was named one of 2018’s best summer reads by Elle magazine! April 2018


What Counts As Success for Women? Hana and me on NextFem. Listen!

The Women Killing It! podcaster Sally Hubbard interviewed Hana Schank and me about our own ambition trajectories, and the role gender has played. Listen!

The Enthusiastic Enthusiast podcaster Katie Ward interviewed Hana Schank and me about how ambition can shift over time. Listen!

Atomic Moms podcaster Ellie Knauss interviewed Hana Schank and me about how motherhood affects ambition. Listen!

Mallory Kasdan featured me in her podcast, MILK (Moms I’d Like to Know) by Mallory Kasdan. Listen!



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