The Orange Line by Michelle Waters

Image of book cover

Why do women find work-life balance so hard? Why is "having it all" such an elusive quest? Why haven't women yet reached equality in the leadership ranks?

Alumna Michelle Waters together this co-authors Jodi Ecker Detjen and Kelly Watson, probe these questions and more in their highly-anticipated book: The Orange Line™ - A Woman's Guide to Integrating Career, Family and Life.

Through interviews with 118 college-educated women, they document real-world career stories and daily life anecdotes about women's experiences in the work-life struggle.

In their research they uncovered how women trap themselves with outdated but pervasive ideals and rigid behavioral rules that define the "ideal woman."

The authors named this limiting belief system the Feminine Filter™. Not surprisingly the filter contains rules such as "Do it all," "Look good," and "Be nice," but nowhere on the list is the rule, "Be smart."

Accordingly, the authors call on women to turn their belief system around, not only by starting to think and work smarter, but also to reframe their assumptions and shed their guilt.

The authors trace the professional path women follow on their pursuit of career success, starting with what they call the Green Line. This is when women, mostly in their 20s and 30s, identify themselves through their work, abandoning their own needs and exhausting themselves in the process.

The Green Line career, despite the external rewards it may garner, often leads to a self-perpetuating and unfulfilling life story.

After time spent on the exhausting Green Line path, many women begin to seriously consider the prospect of opting out of their career. This might be to spend more time with their children, or because of a job loss, burnout or a health issue.

In doing so they head off onto what the authors term the Red Line path. Now they make their career secondary in importance or even walk away from it completely, to focus fully on life and/or family.

In this book the authors describe a new career track opportunity: The Orange Line.

Women on The Orange Line do not need to choose between work and life; they choose both and live both fully. Women can use The Orange Line as a launching pad to create a robust, whole life that integrates work, family, and self.

Orange Liners learn to consciously pace themselves and design a career path that accommodates their own needs. They also take care not to "do it all," but rather to assure themselves sufficient support in their home lives to preserve and enable their creative energy.

The Orange Line is the most radical call to arms for women in decades. It does not look to governments, corporations and other organisations to change. Instead, the authors inspire women to look inward. That is where women will find – and claim – their power.


Image of Michelle Waters

About the author

Alumna and former Monash staff member Michelle Waters (MMgmt 2005) can now add published writer to her career accomplishments. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2006, she has held senior executive roles in business development and is responsible for managing global Fortune 100 accounts.

She is currently providing consulting services to companies and is a facilitator in work life integration. Michelle's qualitative research called Family Friendly Policies: Useful or Symbolic is published with co-author Associate Professor Anne Bardoel in the Asia Pacific Journal of HR.

While working at Monash, Michelle received the Vice-Chancellor's Award for General Excellence.