Like any journalist worth her salt, renowned news correspondent Cokie Roberts knows how to ask the tough questions. In We Are Our Mothers' Daughters, she poses what has long been a real doozy: "What is woman's place?" As you might guess, her answer is manifold, reflected by the table of contents, which reads like the Career Day schedule at a progressive girls' school: Sister, Politician, Consumer Advocate, Aunt, Soldier, First Class Mechanic, Friend, Reporter, Civil Rights Activist, Wife, Mother/Daughter, Enterpriser. Roberts makes no claims about this being groundbreaking research, or even an exacting investigation, rather, she explains that these are simply her own stories and those of women she has come in contact with at different times and places in her life.
Having graduated from Wellesley College in 1964, Roberts explains that the women of her generation were pioneers in many ways--especially when it came to career and workplace issues: "We were the first women at almost everything we did, and most of us often had the experience of being the only woman in the room." Accordingly, many of her essays are political in nature: the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which included "sex" as a prohibited discrimination category by virtual accident); the work of consumer-advocate Esther Peterson; and the history of women in the military. But for Roberts, it's clear that the personal is political, and many stories, while not overtly activist-- her older sister's death, her circle of female friends, and her experiences as a wife, mother, and reporter--reveal the importance she places on a united community of strong women. Using clean, compelling language throughout, Roberts compiles these different stories to reveal a thread of continuity running through the fabric of women, summarizing, "We are connected throughout time and regardless of place." She ends with a message of encouragement for young women--we need only look as far as our foremothers for inspiration.